Radius: Making Connections for NH

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radius ISSUE FOUR / 2019



Making Connections for NH

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Hit the Trail, Then Stop Downtown

16 Look What’s Cooking


Collaborating for Commerce

19 Seeing the Big Picture


Success in School and Beyond

23 Keeping Camp Safe


PD&T by the Numbers

26 The Right Tool for the Job


Lunching with Legislators

28 Bramble On

10 The Future of Farming

30 Nature’s Calendar

13 The Greatest Pumpkin of All

32 Exploring Communities and a Career

Stories that feature this Nature Groupie logo indicate programs where citizens can volunteer for nature! Learn more about these opportunities at naturegroupie.org.


Opposite: Ken La Valley, vice provost of university outreach and engagement and director of UNH Cooperative Extension, listens with President James W. Dean Jr. as Extension intern Brooke Gauthier ’20 explains tree inventorying methods. On the cover: Through summer internships with Extension, Hannah Stewart ’20 (left) and Stephanie Gardner ’18 helped collect data to assess how NH communities can bolster their local economies.

reaching out, getting back Thanks to advances in technology, we live in a hyperconnected society. Extension benefits greatly from communication services like email, instant messaging and video conferencing; in fact, much of our work relies on these platforms. They help us coordinate logistics, share data and collaborate on projects. Embracing technology as a tool for deep engagement is crucial as we move our organization forward, but sometimes there is no substitute for face-to-face communication. That’s why our specialists, educators and staff get out into the community to meet folks where they are. In this issue of Radius you’ll discover some of the many great connections Extension has made throughout the Granite State, aligning with the university’s strategic priority to embrace New Hampshire as a trusted and consistent partner. These initiatives are innovative approaches to problems facing New Hampshire. To manage the population of invasive green crabs, fisheries specialists are working with local chefs to create a market for the species. Our economic experts work with municipal leaders to enhance workforce development and revitalize downtowns. We also get youth together with their legislators to converse and exchange ideas, which builds an engaged citizenry.

As part of the state’s flagship public university, we offer internships that provide valuable work experience and networking opportunities. UNH President James W. Dean Jr. and I saw firsthand how Extension intern Brooke Gauthier ’20 helped the state this summer by conducting a timber inventory for Rockingham County. Under the guidance of our professional foresters, she estimated the value of publicly owned timber stands to enable the county to efficiently manage its resources and lower the tax burden on county residents. Extension brings the state together. Our spirit is collaborative. Our efforts make real world impacts that improve the state’s economy and quality of life. We know that, together, there is nothing the people of New Hampshire can't accomplish.

Kenneth J. La Valley Vice Provost, University Outreach and Engagement Director, UNH Cooperative Extension ken.lavalley@unh.edu


You’ve just hiked a winding trail

through the New Hampshire woods where you caught sight of white-tailed deer, listened to warblers and snapped panoramic photos of fir trees beneath a clear blue sky.

Hiking has worked up your appetite, so you hop in your car and drive across a bridge, following signs into town where the sweet smells of pastries and coffee lure you into a café. You’ll relax here for a bit before wandering into the small bookstore across the

street with works by local authors. Then it’s on to the antique store and a boutique to stock up on novelty gifts before ending the afternoon with a pint of craft beer from the pub. This idyllic outing might seem too good to be true but it’s a model that Extension’s community and economic development (CED) team is helping communities realize, thanks to its new nature economy initiative. In 2018, with support from a Northeast Regional Center for Rural Development (NERCRD) grant, Extension established a multistate, collaborative network to explore connections between downtowns and trails. The Outdoor Industry Association reported in 2017 that outdoor recreation accounts for $887 billion in annual U.S. consumer spending. Extension staff learned about the social, natural, leadership and infrastructural conditions that can help towns leverage natural capital and then worked with dedicated volunteers in Bristol for a pilot program to understand how its bike path could better connect to the downtown. Bristol is in Grafton County and has approximately 3,300 year-round residents. In the summer, seasonal inhabitants increase the population to 6,500. Its town square is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Stop Downtown Extension staff worked with residents to recognize opportunities to utilize existing resources—which include locally owned businesses and access to a variety of lakes, rivers and forests—and identify areas for improvement through several spatial assessments, community-conducted interviews and surveys. Extension staff trained 20 volunteers on how to complete interviews with businesses, residents and community leaders. They also trained volunteers on how to administer intercept surveys for recreators using the trails. This feedback was then handed to Extension for analysis and reporting. Brittany Overton, director of Bristol’s MinotSleeper Library, became a volunteer for this initiative. “I love surveys, community conversations, listening to what other people have to say. I don’t think as a society we listen enough,” she says. Overton emphasizes the value of the community forum that was organized to share results from the surveys and brainstorm next steps. It drew 30 community members. “I think that this downtown revitalization project encouraged the volunteers, who

are everyday citizens, to feel that they could play a role in the bigger picture of what our community looks like,” she says. The forum resulted in two distinct action items. The first was to create a committee to address town communication and marketing. The second was to establish an effort to help business owners and others become better ambassadors for the town. Bristol has already drawn up a plan for improved signage as well as a request for marketing assistance. Extension will continue to support the action committee in Bristol while its volunteers work toward implementing some of the recommendations from this new program. Shannon Rogers, Extension’s nature economy chair, recognized the importance of community support. “We strategically think about making sure volunteers represent a broad cross section of backgrounds and areas of interest. Extension provides training to build capacity so that community members can create change,” she says.  r





University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension

Gulls swoop and caw while

sunlight gleams on the harbor water. Shoppers bustle down brick-lined streets as diners sip cocktails al fresco. Nestled on New Hampshire’s Maine border, Portsmouth offers lively entertainment, eclectic stores and fine dining. The city’s commerce benefits from an advantageous location off Interstate 95, about halfway between Portland and Boston.

Founded in 1630 and long serving as the state’s principal seaport, economic prosperity remains a top priority for Portsmouth. That’s why the city began partnering with Extension’s business engagement and retention program in 2016. This program strengthens the local economy by identifying and addressing the needs, challenges and opportunities facing New Hampshire businesses. Portsmouth Economic Development Director Nancy Carmer, who serves as the city’s overall coordinator for the program, thinks this partnership is a good fit. “We see the future as working with existing businesses and we want to collaborate with UNH more,” she says. Helping communities discern barriers to survival and growth through communityadministered surveys is the first step toward promoting retention. To that end, Portsmouth administered surveys to 71 businesses, cultural institutions and nonprofits. Overall, the results showed that businesses are happy with their location and place a high value on the arts, historical assets and K-12 education. However, there is concern about limited parking, zoning regulations and the high cost of commercial rent, land and housing.

Recruitment of labor proves challenging, particularly for manufacturing, scientific/ technical and unskilled service workers. “We had pretty good ideas about the issues facing businesses, but we wanted to empirically validate those beliefs with data,” Carmer says. After survey results were analyzed, Extension staff facilitated a review session between UNH faculty and a task force Portsmouth put together for this program to help generate action items. One finding indicated a high lack of awareness surrounding key resources and an underutilization of state programs. In response, outreach is underway to engage businesses with the State International Trade Resource Center (ITRC) and the Office of Workforce Opportunity. Additionally, the Chamber Collaborative of Greater Portsmouth has established a series of industry-specific peer networks to share information through roundtable discussions. In response to concerns about workforce shortage, UNH Director of Employer Relations Raina Sarvaiya presented information with her fellow Hire a Wildcat employees on how businesses can connect with UNH students and graduates who are looking for jobs. Molly Donovan, Extension’s community and economic development state specialist, explains, “The key to business retention is fostering a relationship between local businesses and civic and community leaders to ensure that the businesses’ needs are understood and met.”  r




In April, 100 teachers attended

a social and emotional learning workshop hosted by UNH professional development and training (PD&T) at the organization’s new location in Carroll County. Based in Durham, Portsmouth and Manchester, PD&T has recently expanded its geographical reach to meet high demand for its workshop offerings. The sold-out April event in North Conway inspired two new workshops for educators that will be held at the Red Jacket Mountain View Resort this fall.

felt the workshop helped provide strategic approaches to support the many dimensions of wellness. “Student wellness recognizes that there are several factors that impact a student’s academic attainment. It is an approach that focuses on supporting the whole child,” she says. Workshop instructor Mike Anderson explains that although teachers have known the importance of developing strong SEL skills, the recent overemphasis on standardized testing has made it difficult to prioritize those skills.

“It was wonderful to connect with teachers in “In my work with teachers and schools, I help another part of the state to bring them relevant educators understand the interconnection of and innovative content from one of our most social and emotional skills and academic work,” popular featured speakers,” says Dawn he says. “Once Tobin, program manager for PD&T’s WORKSHOP|FEEDBACK teachers understand education and social work courses. that many SEL skills What part of the workshop did you find most valuable? are required as a Social and emotional learning (SEL) part of academic skills help students become self-aware, Interacting with other tasks—many are manage emotions, build relationships participants, seeing ideas put even integrated and make responsible decisions. into action. into academic Helene Anzalone of the New Hampshire standards—we All activities were adaptable Department of Education Bureau can then explore for all grade levels. of Student Wellness practical strategies was one of the for weaving the Discussions with other people attendees who teaching of these in the room. The instructor SEL skills right into really encouraged people to academic lessons mingle and seek out people from other schools and groups. and activities. SEL is no longer ‘something else to do.’ It’s an integral part of setting students up for success with daily academic work.”  r


University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension














Although it’s a Saturday in

March, Hillsborough County 4-H members enjoy a special opportunity: a meal and lively discussion with local elected officials. The event, held at Milford Middle School, is 4-H County Presentation Day. It is one of 10 statewide 4-H

events throughout the month bringing together 45 legislators and 85 teenaged 4-H’ers with a common goal: building civically engaged youth and the human social capital needed to make change in New Hampshire communities. Kate Guerdat, state 4-H leader and youth development specialist for Extension, emphasizes the importance of this experience. “Our spring 4-H local legislative events are designed to educate youth about their county government, and it’s an opportunity for legislators to learn from youth about issues they see as critical. Legislative events provide a space for elected leaders to help us grow our next generation of leaders.”

“Maybe it could be a compromise. Like, if you want a straw you can ask for one, but they shouldn’t be handed out automatically.” — SARAH HILL

A LIVELY CIVIL DISCOURSE After presentations end at the Hillsborough County event, legislators join 4-H members for lunch. Jeff Santer, a longtime 4-H volunteer and youth leadership team leader, then facilitates a group discussion. The first topic? The importance of civil discourse. Legislators share experiences from the State House, where the skill of communicating in a civil manner makes their jobs easier. “When we disagree, I have to remember who I am working for. I have to remind myself that I am working to do the most good for the people in my district, and civil discourse is important to those goals,” says Ruth Ward, a state senator from Stoddard. “Getting along doesn’t mean you have to agree all the time,” adds representative Jim Belanger of Hollis. “We should all get along.”

THE PLASTIC DEBATE Bedford representative Linda Camarota raises the topic of a recently presented bill, HB 558, which restricts the use of plastic straws. Representative J.P. Marzullo from Deering follows with HB 560, which restricts the use of single-use plastic bags—both controversial topics in local communities. “Maybe it could be a compromise. Like, if you want a straw you can ask for one, but they shouldn’t be handed out automatically,” says 4-H’er Sarah Hill. Amherst state senator Shannon Chandley notes Hill could have saved legislators significant debate time with her suggestion. Other 4-H’ers suggest looking into biodegradable bags and alternative materials

for straws that make less of an impact on the environment—ideas that are noted for their creativity and entrepreneurial potential. “I’m so happy to hear that our senators and representatives feel that New Hampshire’s future is in good hands with the young people they’ve met and talked to,” says Hillsborough County 4-H program manager Jolee Chase. Brookline state senator Melanie Levesque echoes those sentiments as she addresses the 4-H’ers during the culmination of the day’s activities. “If you are our future, then our future is bright,” she says.  r


As the local food movement

continues to grow in New Hampshire, so does the market potential for locally raised meat. However, growing livestock markets successfully and sustainably requires more young farmers. 4-H livestock auction participants are working hard to gain the experience necessary to become the future farmers of New Hampshire. 4-H’ers raise beef, swine, goat and lamb and then show and sell them by live weight at an annual auction held at Hopkinton State Fair in September.

The dizzying tempo of the auctioneer’s call and competition for the winning bid on a locally raised animal makes for an exciting day for buyers, spectators and 4-H’ers. Auction day is all about action, but the work starts much earlier in the year for participants. 4-H’ers invest a significant amount of time and money into raising a healthy market animal, maintaining accurate records and recruiting buyers for the final sale. These young farmers are expected to complete the same necessary tasks that a full-scale farm would to

produce a quality product and turn a profit—a goal that any farmer will tell you requires a highly specialized skillset. “You’re dealing with money, you’re dealing with expenditures and profits, the animal itself and their health and anatomy,” explains Hayden Gardner, an eighth-year 4-H’er. Gardner raises swine and goats and serves on the auction’s planning committee, which is comprises both youth participants and adult volunteers. “The New Hampshire Livestock Auction allows the opportunity for our youth, our potential young farmers, to get a taste of what this future could look like for them,” says Elaina Enzien, field specialist in livestock, dairy and forage with UNH Extension’s food and agriculture team. “4-H’ers can play an important role in seeing the vision of a strong local food system become the reality of New Hampshire’s future.” Michelle Bersaw-Robblee, 4-H field specialist and livestock auction coordinator, emphasizes: “The project is more than just youth raising animals to sell. The business and marketing skills that participants gain are incredible. The opportunity to work with a deeply caring group of adult volunteers who truly value the energy and ideas that youth bring to the planning process is a fulfilling experience.” The auction connects youth interested in animal husbandry with mentors, Extension specialists and the business sector to create a hands-on learning experience. It also links conscientious consumers to an opportunity they can feel doubly good about—supporting the local food movement and the future of sustainable farming in New Hampshire.  r

Meet the Participants


age 11, Lee, NH


age 15, Loudon, NH


age 14, Loudon, NH

“Getting my pigs up to weight was

“I was on a committee in the first

a challenge—managing their diet

year. Normally, as a participant,

perspectives. Kids might take

and making sure they were heavy

you see what goes on in the front

meat for granted. They might

enough. They weren’t gaining

of the auction, but I got to be

not know how much work goes

enough so we switched their diet.

behind the scenes and see all

into raising an animal. Raising an

We weigh them at intervals and

of the resources and planning

animal changes how you look at

track it so we can make changes

that go into putting everything

the meat you buy.”

if we have to. Last year was my

together. It’s like a whole other

first year raising meat goats. It


was really good.”

“It changes a lot of kids’


“My top three choices for college were very competitive, but what really pushed my decision to attend UNH was that I would be able to continue to help my little sister, who has Down syndrome, show our animals at 4-H fairs around the state, while still achieving goals for my career. My experience with 4-H affirmed that I want to pursue a career in veterinary medicine. I look forward to seeking out opportunities at UNH to work on a research project, preferably related to large ruminants.”




“Now is the time to be on the

lookout; these numbers are concerning,” says George Hamilton, UNH Extension field specialist in food and agriculture. Hamilton holds up a colored chart indicating a concerning trend of squash vine borer (SVB) populations in New Hampshire. A group of giant pumpkin growers follows along, flipping through charts while listening to Hamilton’s recommendations for control.

The New Hampshire Giant Pumpkin Growers Association (NHGPGA) meets regularly throughout the summer. A single pest issue can derail an entire competitive growing season, so these numbers are of interest to growers who may invest hundreds of hours into a single fruit. Any New England gardener or farmer can tell you that growing seasons are, to put it nicely, variable. Last years weather was volatile,



and many giant pumpkin growers suffered damage and loss due to the significant rainfall and humidity. This year? Conditions have been ideal for SVB, a destructive pest for squash and pumpkins. The larvae (caterpillars) bore through squash and pumpkin vines and occasionally into their fruit—damage that can render a giant pumpkin ineligible or unfit for competition. “When the NHGPGA formed they were regularly asking me questions, so we started an annual educational meeting,” Hamilton says. “It might be the longest—standing regular educational meeting in the country for giant pumpkin growers.”


University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension

fact, when he first heard about growing giant pumpkins, his assessment was blunt. “I said, ‘This is the dumbest thing I have ever heard of. It is foolish. It’s silly. You’re adults,’” Geddes recalls. For Hamilton and other regional agricultural Integrated Pest Management (IPM) specialists, the pumpkin growers provide valuable data that is far from silly. Fourteen giant pumpkin growers keep SVB traps on their property. Hamilton counts the pests and closely monitors their numbers. He then distributes an email to the NHGPGA, noting any SVB concerns, along with other pest issue patterns he has noticed throughout the state. “It keeps our growers ahead of the game,” Geddes says. “If I see that growers in Litchfield and Milford have noticed something, I know that I have a bit of time to deal with the issue before it gets north to me.” The numbers from these traps are also used to advise commercial growers of coming agricultural threats. Extension issues alerts through digital newsletters and social media, channels that reach their audiences quickly to help farmers make critical decisions to mitigate any threats to valuable pumpkin, summer squash and winter squash crops—commodities that generate millions in revenue annually for New Hampshire’s farmers.

Steve Geddes of Boscawen looks on and listens intently. Geddes knows a thing or two about growing giant pumpkins. He’s grown plenty of them during the last 10 years at his home in Boscawen. Last year, though, Geddes smashed all previous North American records, with a giant pumpkin weighing a gargantuan 2,528 pounds. Geddes’ record-breaking pumpkin was officially recognized in September 2018 at the Deerfield Fair. Years of prodigious pumpkin production has made him something of a celebrity in the world of competitive giant pumpkin growing. But Geddes hasn’t always been the giant pumpkin fan he is today. In

Competitive pumpkin growing, like many agricultural endeavors, is rife with myths, legends, snake oils and witches’ brews. The promise of easy results without hard work or research is tempting. But Geddes is not a fan of the easy way out. “George is a gold mine,” Geddes says. “He gives us updates on diseases coming in so we can be prepared. If you aren’t prepared for downy mildew when it comes in, your season could end awfully quick. One of the biggest advantages with the New Hampshire club—and we are really gifted—is that we have access to true evidence-based, science-based information through UNH Extension.”  r




It’s 93 degrees, hazy and humid at Rye

Harbor in late July. A small group gathers by the side of the road near a bridge spanning the intertidal waters of the Atlantic Ocean. This crowd isn’t looking for an escape from the heat, though. Their hunt is for something different entirely: European green crabs (carcinas maenas), members of an invasive species that has wreaked ecological and economic havoc along the New England coast for decades. Wells Costello, citizen science outreach coordinator for NH Sea Grant Extension, welcomes the group of volunteers by explaining how the data


University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension

they collect will enhance ongoing research efforts. Their charge for the day? Catch as many green crabs as possible, measure carapace size (upper section of the shell), note sex and physical features, document habitat and evaluate the state of each shell. “By participating and helping us collect data they are making a difference in their community,” Costello says. “It’s empowering. We are bringing awareness to the issue and backing it up with research-based science and an authentic field experience for volunteers.” Within minutes, the first crab is caught—a tiny, two-centimeter female crab. Taylor Merrick, one of four interns working on NH Sea Grant’s green crab project this summer, helps the

group document their first find. Before long, the bottoms of five-gallon buckets click and clack with scuttling crabs. Volunteers call out their catches, fill in data sheets and share hunting strategies.

money. Green crabs also harm eelgrass, an estuarine plant that provides important habitat and protection to other native species. As ocean temperatures have warmed, green crab populations have increased.

“I like to get my hands in different sorts of ecosystems, and this seemed like a way to connect with our shoreline,” says Heather Flewelling of Exeter. She regularly volunteers for Extension as a natural resources steward. “I also thought it would be a chance to engage in citizen science with my daughter, Emma. It was a great to share and connect with her.”

In response to these concerns, Gabriela Bradt, fisheries specialist for Extension and NH Sea Grant, created a comprehensive research, monitoring and outreach program called the NH Green Crab Project. Bradt is exploring the feasibility of a soft-shell green crab market and fishery for the Granite State.

Green crabs arrived on the shores of Cape Cod in the mid-1800s from European ships and have established themselves as a pervasive nuisance from Massachusetts all the way north to Prince Edward Island in Canada. The invasive species preys on soft-shell clams, and the economic impact of the diminished clam population has been deeply felt by New England fishermen. Green crabs add weight without value to catches and suck up labor resources with the time and effort it takes to sort them out from the species that make

Green crabs grow by shedding their shells and growing new ones — a process known



 as molting. The best time to process green crabs for consumption is before the molting begins. Data gathered by citizen scientists, like the green crab hunters in Rye Harbor, provides valuable information about when and where green crabs are the most abundant in their premolt phase. Currently, there is no established commercial market or fishery for these invaders. “The hope is that we can find enough information and data to streamline the fisheries process, recruit fishermen and get soft-shell green crabs into restaurants and markets more readily,” Bradt says. “Hopefully we’ll see some of our other species, like soft-shell clams, recover.” Bradt has worked extensively with partner organizations, volunteers, interns, industry members, local chefs and foodies to create opportunities to familiarize the public with


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green crabs as a delicious addition to the area’s cuisine. Green crabs are not as large as Dungeness or Jonah crabs, species commonly served in restaurants, but the rewards are worth the hard work required to harvest their delicate meat. They provide an excellent ingredient for a rich stock — the basis of Portsmouth chef Matt Louis’ green crab pozole — one of several recipes developed by local chefs and available on NH Sea Grant’s website. During Green Crab Week in July, several New Hampshire restaurants offered green crab specials on their nightly menus, including the Black Trumpet in Portsmouth and The Joinery in Newmarket. Generating excitement and demand for dishes like these will hopefully increase their popularity and drive market development. “Green crabs aren’t being utilized. They are edible and quite delicious,” Bradt explains. “By combining our research efforts with input from and outreach to different groups of stakeholders, we can mitigate the impact of invasive green crabs and boost economic value.”  r


Husband and wife team Dan

Lagueux and Valerie Vanasse opened New England’s Tap House Grille in 2013 to serve from-scratch meals and local craft beer. After just a few years of making hand-pressed burgers, wood-fired pizza and a rotating selection of seafood specials, they wanted a more controlled production of fresh produce for their dishes.

Enter Hip Peas Farm, the duo’s holistic, sustainable venture that supplies the tap house with a variety of fruits and vegetables including spring and salad mixes, microgreens, swiss chard, arugula, baby kale, tomatoes, squashes, strawberries and (of course) pea tendrils. Set on five and a half acres alongside the Merrimack River in Hooksett, the property also includes a restored farmhouse built in Radius


Establishing a Vision Birnstihl initially met with fruit and vegetable production field specialists Jeremy DeLisle and George Hamilton during the 2017-18 winter to discuss issues surrounding production, soil, fertility and crop mixtures. “We’re here to serve as a liaison. We can connect farmers with resources and provide insight,” DeLisle says. Holistic farming, also referred to as wholefarm planning, is a regenerative agricultural practice that takes into consideration social, economic and environmental aspects of the industry rather than focusing exclusively on a bottom line. Elaina Enzien, dairy, livestock and forage crops field specialist for Extension, explains, “Wholefarm planning is very personal. There’s a strong focus on quality of life.” Enzien and DeLisle assisted Birnstihl and Lagueux with goal setting. Although Lagueux already had a strong vision, Extension’s involvement helped with making sure everyone was on the same page.

the 1860s that can be rented nightly through Airbnb. They intend to host weddings and other functions on the complex. Such a large farm-to-table operation requires detailed, thoughtful planning. Lagueux met Dan Birnstihl in 2017 while Birnstihl was still a student in UNH’s sustainable agriculture and food systems program. Lagueux knew instantly that Birnstihl would be the right fit as director of agriculture for Hip Peas Farm. He hired him after their first conversation. In the years since, with support from Extension staff members, Birnstihl has grown Hip Peas into a thriving operation with a focus on holistic farming.


University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension

“We set up standard operating procedures, created value statements and developed a system to achieve their goals,” Enzien says. “Having a third party helps to work ideas out,” Birnstihl says.

Systems Thinking The relationship between Hip Peas Farm and New England’s Tap House Grille is unique because most of the restaurant employees have at one point worked on the farm. “We can transfer the enthusiasm and knowledge of what’s happening at the farm directly to the restaurant,” Birnstihl says. Birnstihl served in the United States Marine Corps before enrolling at UNH, and sees a



correlation with farming when it comes to systems thinking: strategically mapping out production, analyzing costs and determining benefits. He consulted with Jonathan Ebba, landscape and greenhouse field specialist for Extension, when planning the farm’s two high tunnels (greenhouses without foundations). “I looked at factors like heat and light costs to determine if it would be profitable for Dan to grow his own transplants instead of buying them in, and the answer was yes,” Ebba says. The farm is USDA certified organic and has transitioned to “no spray,” meaning that produce is free of conventional and organic insecticides, herbicides and fungicides. Laguex and Birnstihl are starting a composting program to utilize food scraps and create a closed loop food system. Eventually, they plan to recycle spent cooking oil from the tap house to help generate fuel. Birnstihl continually looks for ways for Hip Peas to become self-sufficient. “Farmers are a hardworking bunch. It’s important to manage time efficiently and work smarter to avoid burnout,” he says.

Community Connection Hip Peas will construct two more high tunnels, adding almost 6,000 square feet of winter growing space. They will add cover crops, which are used to add protection and enrichment to the soil. They’ll also create a pollinator habitat to help aid local bees. DeLisle has enjoyed seeing the farm grow and continues to regularly work with Birnstihl. “It’s a mutually beneficial relationship,” DeLisle says. “We learn from one another. Hip Peas has been very proactive, cooperative and generous with their time.” Birnstihl is grateful to have DeLisle as a sounding board for his ideas. “We have become close friends,” he says. In addition to supplying the tap house, Hip Peas sells to nearby Hooksett establishments— Johnson’s Golden Harvest and the Roots Café. The farm has also partnered with the nutrition director of the Hooksett School District to get local produce into the school system. Cawley Middle School students have visited the farm multiple times to learn about growing food and to help with projects. In a thank-you letter to the farm, Cawley teachers explained how their visit instilled in the students an appreciation for community. They ended the note: “You are impacting the future of Hooksett more than you can ever know or see right now.”  r


Late-day sun trickles through the

tree canopy and glistens off the still waters of Great Pond at YMCA Camp Lincoln in Kingston. It’s early June, and camp is gearing up for a summer of outdoor adventures. Groups of counselors scatter about the camp learning new skills with directors and managers to ensure the 2019 summer camp experience is­ fun, enriching and—most importantly—safe for attendees. Sharp whistles and claps from camp directors prompt counselors to gather in the large outdoor pavilion as Rachel Maccini, program coordinator in pesticide safety education at UNH Extension, prepares to give a presentation.

The setting may look idyllic, but there are hidden dangers that require skill and awareness to mitigate. Rockingham County remains a hotbed of tick activity. Rising temperatures and suburban developments have contributed to growing populations of the disease-carrying ectoparasites. Additionally, the 2015 New Hampshire tickborne disease prevention plan documents that Lyme disease rates are highest among children ages 5-14 years, the age range of many of New Hampshire’s summer camp attendees. This information, all highlighted in the Seacoast Public Health Network’s tick-safe practice plan of action, brought the mission



“We have 70 acres with woods and 600 campers,” assistant camp director Reid Van Keulen says. “It’s important for staff to be knowledgeable, prepared and to know the potential risks associated with ticks.” Counselors are high schooler and college students. Some counselors are from other countries and may not have grown up in an area where ticks are a health concern, while others may not identify themselves as part of an at-risk population. Extension’s work at Camp Lincoln began in April. Maccini met with Van Keulen to identify potential hot spots of tick activity. The duo surveyed areas to learn more about tick populations and kinds of tick species present at Camp Lincoln. Maccini incorporated this information into her custom presentation to the counselors, hoping they will use it as they plan activities and hikes around potentially dangerous areas.

of a new initiative into focus: to increase knowledge of tick-safe practices among youth and their caregivers. Mary Cook, public health emergency preparedness manager for the Seacoast Public Health Network, reached out to UNH Extension and Maccini.

Teddy Brown of Newton teaches archery at Camp Lincoln. “I found the training helpful. I had some knowledge about ticks, but this taught me a lot, like the differences between deer and dog ticks,” he says.

“It was important for us to have a knowledgeable trainer about ticks conduct the program,” Cook says.

Cook is already seeking funding to replicate this program and reach even more camp staff and caretakers.

Maccini has been working closely with the group, convened in 2018 by the Seacoast Public Health Network, to design an educational program for camp counselors to keep at-risk populations safe from ticks and tick-borne diseases.

“We’re really happy that Camp Lincoln is being proactive,” she says. With the help of Extension and the Seacoast Public Health Network, counselors can feel confident about tick preparedness while making more time for what camp is all about—fun.  r


University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension

“I had some knowledge about ticks, but this taught me a lot, like the differences between deer and dog ticks.” — TEDDY BROWN


RIGHT TOOL for the Job


“It’s everywhere! I realized it was a big problem and damaging our trees. I saw that it was taking over in Selvoski Park, and I knew something had to be done about it.”

Gabriel Deml, an Eagle Scout from Bedford, is talking about oriental bittersweet. A deciduous, woody, perennial vine native to China, Japan and Korea, oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus) was brought to the U.S. in the mid-1800s as an ornamental plant. Bittersweet is now considered a serious invasive species because it poses a significant threat to native plants. To achieve the rank of Eagle Scout, Deml had to complete a service project. He chose


University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension

to organize volunteer workdays in 2018 to remove bittersweet from Selvoski Park in Bedford. Photos from before the workday show bittersweet strangling trees and covering up sponsorship banners along the home run fences—a problem Deml knew would only get worse with time and without action. “Organizing a project like this is harder than it looks,” Deml says. “It requires significant time and effort to research, plan and find funding to support the project.” During the planning stages of the Selvoski Park project, Deml discovered the Nature Groupie Seacoast Stewardship Tool Library, which lends items like shovels, gloves, pruning saws

and pry bars to volunteers for use in trail maintenance, invasive weed pulling and habitat improvement. Deml coordinated with UNH Extension staff to secure the most appropriate tools for the job. More than 15 volunteers, including Deml’s fellow Scouts and people from his friend circle, family, church and FIRST Robotics team, cleared Selvoski Park of oriental bittersweet in two days. Root wrenches from the tool library made quick work of removing the challenging plant. Deml distributed educational handouts from Extension to educate volunteers about invasive species in New Hampshire and how they can help. After the workdays, volunteers

celebrated the accomplishment with a bittersweet bonfire. “Before it felt like: ‘What is all of this stuff? It looks terrible!’ After, we all felt good about how nice the park looked,” Deml says. After successfully completing his project, Deml was awarded his Eagle Scout rank in November 2018. Now he’s on to another big project this fall: college. “If I didn’t have access to the tool library, I would have had to fundraise to buy tools or would have needed to ask volunteers to bring their own, and who knows what they would have had?” he says. “I would still be fundraising for my project now!”  r




Stonyfield Farm yogurt is

host to more than an iconic New Hampshire yogurt brand. The shrublands surrounding the company’s Londonderry headquarters are home to a small population of stateendangered New England cottontail. In December 2018, a group of volunteer citizen scientists gathered at the facility to learn and practice data collection methods to support UNH research. New England cottontails have been the subject of restoration efforts in the state since 2008. Habitat creation and restoration and captive

breeding and reintroduction are all strategies being deployed to reinvigorate Granite State’s only native rabbit species. To date, more than 1,100 acres of public and private land in New Hampshire has been managed or maintained for New England cottontail habitat. One very important component of these efforts has been missing, though.

“Currently, no mechanism is in place to demonstrate the success of habitat management efforts,” says Melissa Bauer, a doctoral student and research assistant in the department of natural resources and the environment at UNH.


“It has been great to work with enthusiastic citizen scientists,” Bauer says. “They have collected valuable data to help us better understand and conserve populations of a rare wildlife species.”

New England cottontails possibly remaining in wild populations in New Hampshire


density of woody stems per acre preferred by New England cottontails


Bauer teamed up with Haley Andreozzi ’13G, UNH Extension’s wildlife outreach program coordinator, to design a training and protocol for citizen scientists to contribute to their research. “Data collected by citizen scientists will help us understand how cottontail populations have responded to prior management and what measures could increase abundance to recover cottontail populations,” Bauer says.

average distance in feet that New England cottontails will travel from protective cover of thickets and brush

Habitat is critical to the success of New England cottontails—they require dense, shrubby vegetation to thrive. Understanding the quality of habitat through a broader geographical region will enrich the data already being collected. This is where citizen scientists are not only helpful, but crucial. It would be impossible for Bauer and her team to cover all the sites managed for New England cottontails before leaves grow in the spring. Shrubs are challenging enough to get through without leaves, so it is important that this data be collected between January and April. In addition to the 15 volunteer-surveyed parcels, UNH collected vegetation data on 18 additional sites, bringing the total to 33 researched properties.

acres under active habitat management for New England cottontail in New Hampshire

After a presentation about the New England cottontail and an overview of the ongoing research, volunteers were instructed in the use of a mapping application called Avenza Maps. This tool allows Andreozzi and Bauer to direct volunteers to randomly assigned points within habitat sites. “This is a crucial part of the protocol,” Andreozzi says. “The terrain can be difficult to navigate, so removing our own bias of avoidance is



sites surveyed for habitat and vegetation data by volunteers

important to the integrity of the data being collected.” Each volunteer signed up for a parcel of conservation land to survey over the winter, where they collected information about understory density, height, canopy cover, refuges (such as brush piles) and predator perches. They then reported this information back to Bauer and Andreozzi, who will analyze and use this data to aid managers in planning future actions to conserve New England cottontails.  r




“Make hay while the sun shines” serves as a proverb to explain

how crucial timing is for farmers. Similarly, gardeners need to know when pests will emerge, when to avoid frosts and when to expect the most rainfall. Unfortunately, this timing is being disrupted by rising carbon dioxide emissions.

Although scientists know that plants and animals respond to climate change in different ways, they need more information to determine how ecological relationships, including farming and gardening, will be affected. To help address these gaps in data, UNH Extension teamed up with New Hampshire Audubon to offer an interactive workshop in May. They trained volunteers on how to investigate the impacts of climate change in their own backyards, neighborhoods and local ecosystems.


University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension

This workshop introduced volunteers to phenology — the study of seasonal timing for life events like animal migrations, plant leafing and tree fruiting. Phenology can be thought of as nature’s calendar. Volunteer Marie Nickerson lives in southcentral New Hampshire and works five months out of the year on Appledore Island, Maine. “I plan to use what I’ve learned to begin chronicling and recording the changes in seasons for years to come,” she says, indicating that she would collect data at both sites. Many of the citizen scientists who participated in this training also volunteer for other Extension or Audubon programs and can be found planting pollinator gardens, monitoring lakes or serving with youth through 4-H. Ruth Smith, who coordinates the master gardener program for Extension, points out the many benefits of collaborating with NH Audubon for this important work. “Both organizations were enriched by the experience and the sharing of expertise, energy and volunteers,” she says.  r




Hannah Stewart ’20 embraces

challenges and new experiences. Last year, after just her second year of studying environmental conservation and sustainability at UNH, she enrolled in a summer internship with Extension’s community and economic development team.

Stewart spent time exploring the downtowns and natural resources of 13 New Hampshire communities alongside Stephanie Gardner ’18, a fellow intern. The pair helped collect data to assess how these communities can better use trails, waterways and other natural resources to bolster their local economies. “In the field, I used Collector, an app that uses ArcGIS to catalog notable characteristics or features like trails and river walks,” Stewart says. ArcGIS is an interactive geographic information system used for creating and using maps. When walking in downtown areas, Stewart considered infrastructure and wayfinding. “I looked for characteristics such as businesses, lighting, signage, trailheads and overnight accommodations. Once I found a notable feature, I added it to Collector, defined it as either an existing asset or an opportunity, took a photo and wrote a brief description.” Shannon Rogers, state specialist of naturebased economic development and associate Extension professor, provided guidance to Stewart and helped mentor her throughout the


University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension

internship. About Rogers, Stewart says, “She was super encouraging and created a positive work environment. I gained so much insight from her.”

AN INTERNSHIP MAKES AN IMPACT Stewart has been applying the skills and knowledge gained through her internship to her coursework at UNH. At first, she found it difficult to define and classify natural resources because of the subjectivity involved. Learning how to navigate the software also required lots of practice. After working with several communities, however, she gained confidence and experience, which then allowed her to use the app for a summer fellowship to help observe forests with drones. Stewart, who hopes to attend graduate school for agriculture and resource economics and pursue a career in higher education, says the access she gained through UNH Extension to hundreds of maps and information allowed her to pursue her research and interests on a deeper level. “This position brought me so much joy and a heightened understanding of community and environmental development,” she says. The data she gathered will help assist those communities as they continue to create vibrant spaces with a focus on quality of life. “My internship helped me find a path for my own career and even made a difference for New Hampshire towns,” she says.  r

Taylor Hall 59 College Road Durham, NH 03824

“I was drawn to the green crab hunt because I like to get my hands into different ecosystems, and it seemed like a great chance to engage in citizen science with my daughter.” -HEATHER FLEWELLING, NATURAL RESOURCES STEWARD (PICTURED WITH DAUGHTER, EMMA)

Visit extension.unh.edu/donate to support UNH Cooperative Extension programs and their efforts to cultivate economic success in New Hampshire.

UNH Cooperative Extension strengthens people and communities in New Hampshire by providing trusted knowledge, practical education and cooperative solutions. P RO D UCT I O N E D I TO R Emma Joyce STOR I E S Emma Joyce Jill Ketchen DE SI GN Valerie Lester CON T R I B UTO RS Haley Andreozzi ’13G Peter Eisenhaure ’19 Donna Funteral Jeremy Gasowksi Dave Kellam The University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension is an equal opportunity educator and employer. University of New Hampshire, U.S. Department of Agriculture and New Hampshire counties cooperating. © 2019 University of New Hampshire All rights reserved.

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