Connecticut 4-H Development Fund, Inc

Connecting people, agriculture and the environment.

aka 4-H Education Center at Auerfarm   |   Bloomfield, CT   |  http://www.auerfarm.org

Mission

Inspire children and adults to engage in, learn about, and enjoy agriculture, science, and the natural environment.

Ruling year info

1970

Executive Director

Erica Fearn

Main address

158 Auer Farm Rd

Bloomfield, CT 06002 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

06-0938101

NTEE code info

Agricultural Programs (K20)

Educational Services and Schools - Other (B90)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Blog

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Connecticut is a state rife with disparities in academic achievement, quality of health, and school funding along racial and socioeconomic lines. While some headway has been made in closing the achievement gap in CT, test scores still indicate that caucasian students are twice as likely to achieve benchmarks for proficiency in all academic subjects as black or hispanic students (source: https://ctmirror.org/2019/09/09/small-gains-on-state-test-but-troubling-achievement-gap-persists/). These rifts often extend beyond the classroom to disparities in physical health resulting from low family income and lack of nutritional education. School systems frequently lack the means to emphasize initiatives--such as the development of more individualized learning models--or content areas--such as environmental and nutritional science--that might serve to mitigate discrepancies in health and education amongst CT students. As such, Auerfarm aims to champion these initiatives and content areas.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

4-H Education Center

The 4-H Education Center at Auerfarm has been in existence since 1976 and continues to encourage and empower children ages 8-18 to become leaders through hands-on learning and skill building. At Auerfarm, 4-H participants build meaningful lifelong connections with farm animals, the surrounding environment, and their peers and mentors.

4‑H programs are grounded in the belief that kids learn best by doing. Club members complete hands-on projects in areas such as science, health, agriculture and citizenship, in an environment where they receive guidance from Auerfarm staff and volunteer parent mentors and where they are encouraged to take on proactive leadership roles.

4-H participants can choose between concentrating on one focus area or experimenting with a variety of programs throughout their 4‑H experience. They have the opportunity to exhibit their year long projects at the statewide 4-H Fair each August, as well as to compete in additional CT fairs. The 4-H Club also participates in a minimum of one group community service activity each year, which serves to build team cohesiveness and foster sense of community engagement.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
Families

Educational programs at Auerfarm engage students in exploratory and sensory-based learning to provide an authentic farm related experience. All Auerfarm education programs are linked to the CT Early Learning Development Standards (CT ELDS) and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and focus on agriculture, the environment and health. Programs offered seasonally include Apples to Cider, Farms Produce Food, Animal Homes, Summer on the Farm, Maple Sugaring, Pollinator Power, Scat & Tracks, Food Web Survivors, Farm Genetics, Compost Investigation, Wet In the Wild, The Whole Farm, and Soils. Details about the specifics of these programs can be found on Auerfarm's website.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
Economically disadvantaged people

The Farm Explorers Program at Auerfarm is a program created specifically for preschool and kindergarten age children. The program immerses students in an agricultural setting and provides STEM-based, hands-on learning through ongoing visits to the farm. This program is designed to give young children the opportunity to visit and explore the farm multiple times throughout the school year. Numerous visits allow students to witness seasonal changes, provide a greater impact, and foster deeper student learning. Students are able to build upon their prior knowledge each time they visit the farm, which consequently helps them develop a connection to to the environment. The curriculum encourages critical thinking and curiosity while also providing concrete, experiential learning that aligns with state and national science standards.

Population(s) Served
Infants and toddlers
Economically disadvantaged people

Auerfarm’s Nature To-Go programs bring the farm to the classroom. Students receive a hands-on, engaging experience in comfort of their own classroom spaces while still being able to interact with natural materials utilized in lessons that take place on the farm. Program offerings include: Feathers and Fur, Garden in the Classroom, Worms and Composting, Old Fashioned Ice Cream, Food Group Smoothies, and From Alpaca to Yarn. Program specifics are available on Auerfarm's website.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
Economically disadvantaged people

Post-secondary students, aged 18 to 21, have been coming to Auerfarm for over ten years through an education partnership with Farmington Valley Public Schools. In 2019, Auerfarm and West Hartford Public Schools also collaborated on a pilot program to engage their students in farming and help build job skills for students with disabilities. While at the farm, post-secondary program participants learn agricultural skills by growing vegetables and herbs in a large hoop house, as well as job culinary skills using the harvested produce. The acquisition of these skills greatly increases students' likelihood of later employment.

Population(s) Served
Adolescents
People with disabilities

The staff and students of the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources through the Cooperative Extension program offer their expertise and time to support the farm’s fruit and vegetable production and educational activities. Auerfarm hosts the UConn Master Gardener program, which enables volunteers to learn about gardening and food production alongside experts in these areas. Aside from classes and training offered to the community through this program, the food harvested from the Auerfarm/Master Gardener vegetable plots is donated to FoodShare. On average, over 3,500 pounds of organic vegetables are donated to food insecure families per year. Faculty and students of the Sustainable Plant and Soil Systems classes at UConn also spend time at Auerfarm evaluating agricultural production systems.

Population(s) Served
Young adults
Economically disadvantaged people

From its inception, Wintonbury Magnet School has incorporated Auerfarm into their curriculum. All pre-Kindergarteners from this magnet school visit Auerfarm twelve times throughout the school year to experience the farm's wide range of seasonal program offerings . Auerfarm educators' close collaboration with Wintonbury’s early childhood staff includes joint curriculum planning and professional development. The 10+ year partnership between Auerfarm and Wintonbury has created a high degree of expertise in science education for the early childhood age group.

Population(s) Served
Infants and toddlers
Families

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of grants received

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Children and youth, Ethnic and racial groups, Family relationships

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Grants support Farm to School, Farm Explorers, Auerfarm Growing Opportunities, agricuture education programs, after school enrichment, summer day camp (Auer Camp).

Number of students participating in education programs annually

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Children and youth, Economically disadvantaged people, Students

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

This metric reflects an increase in outreach efforts on the part of Auerfarm's educators, as well as augmented curricula designed to meet the specific educational needs of partnering schools.

Total annual revenue from all input sources

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Families, Economically disadvantaged people, Students

Type of Metric

Input - describing resources we use

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Annual revenue is a composite of funds derived from grants, fundraising and donors, and education programs. Revenue has been increasing due to improvements in all three of these areas.

Number of partnerships with statewide schools and non-profit organizations

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Economically disadvantaged people, People with diseases and illnesses, People with disabilities

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

Auerfarm partners with schools to offer more in-depth learning experiences and to meet the needs of underserved student populations. The farm also partners with local non-profits like Healing Meals.

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Auerfarm’s primary initiative is to provide students with experiential learning models for STEAM and environmental education. The diverse array of educational programs offered under this banner are targeted towards students of every age and background, but they place particular emphasis on reducing food insecurity in underserved youth populations, as well as on raising academic performance within these same populations. By encouraging hands-on interaction with natural materials and by exposing students to a traditional farm setting, our organization also aims to increase awareness of agricultural science and the environment. We hope that, by means of ongoing student engagement in Auerfarm’s programs, this awareness will blossom into a strong environmental conscience and appreciation for natural resources at the level of the individual, which may in turn lead to positive changes within broader CT communities in the areas of physical/mental health and sustainability.

More specific goals held by our organization include the development of novel education programs in conjunction with CT schools, increased enrollment in Auerfarm's existing programs, the forging of new long-term partnerships with external institutions and non-profit organizations, expansion of classroom space and resources, and the acquisition of a greater number of grants to enable more students to visit Auerfarm.

Auerfarm has developed a diverse array of educational programs that offer disparate access points into the study of agricultural science. These programs are diverse not only in the scope of their content and the types of learning they promote, but also in the ways in which they are made accessible to the broader CT community. Schools interested in Auerfarm’s learning modules have the opportunity to either visit the farm for an immersive experience in the resources contained within 120 acres of farmland or to book a visiting farm program, through which students are able to engage with natural resources in the more familiar environment of their home classrooms and institutions. These programs are centered around Auerfarm’s experience-based approach to education, but also tie into CT ELDS standards and are adaptable to the specific academic goals of visiting schools.

In order to ensure the assimilation of the concepts and modes of learning emphasized in Auerfarm’s programs, our organization strives to forge and promote long-term partnerships with schools throughout the greater Hartford area. This is accomplished via a marketing and outreach strategy enacted by Auerfarm’s educators, who routinely update schools on seasonal educational offerings and promote the strengths of Auerfarm’s unique curriculum. Educators also aim to establish new points of contact with schools in their local communities and to increase awareness of Auerfarm’s natural and educational resources through social media campaigns. The sought-after end result of these efforts is for schools to visit the farm on a seasonal basis, so as to allow students to experience the full array of Auerfarm’s educational offerings. Beyond this, Auerfarm seeks to partner with underfunded institutions through grant programs in order to enable students to experience the farm on a more frequent, sometimes weekly, basis. These partnerships give students the advantage of stronger connections with farm educators, more personalized learning experiences, and greater exposure to educational content. They also allow for more diverse populations to participate in our programs. The success of Auerfarm’s partnership initiative is evidenced by our organization’s long-running Wintonbury program, relationship with Annie Fisher Montessori Magnet School, and expanding Farm Explorers program.

Auerfarm’s final strategy for program diversification and outreach is to engage the immediate community in the farm, be it through partnerships with local non-profit organizations such as Healing Meals, private events, or public events that function as publicity for the farm's assets. Through social events and fundraisers, visitors gain exposure to and appreciation for the farm’s natural resources. Such events also market Auerfarm’s programs to a wider population, and they often serve to attract families to book private events in farm spaces or to spread word of Auerfarm’s programs throughout their children's schools.

Auerfarm boasts 120 acres of farmland that provide the resources for a rich array of educational programs. In addition to four distinct classroom spaces, the farm contains several barns and animals with which students may interact, observational bee hives, maple trees and tools for syrup production, an orchard, hiking trails, waterways, a greenhouse, a well-maintained forest area that functions as a natural playscape, and gardens for both food production and observational learning about flowers and herbs. We are well-equipped with classroom tools, as well as tools for interacting with animals and the environment in Auerfarm's outdoor learning spaces, to allow students to maximally engage in hands-on, sensory learning. Some of these more traditional tools, such as old-fashioned ice cream churns and cider presses, offer students unique a unique look into the past. All of these learning resources are strong marketing points in our efforts to form relationships/partnerships with new CT schools. They also serve as a strong foundation for the development of new education programs.

Although Auerfarm's staff size is relatively small--the team consists of of sixteen main personnel--each individual staff member brings intersectional knowledge and a diverse range of experiences to their work at the farm. It is through their efforts that seven successful, enduring partnerships with schools and non-profits have flourished, and through their creativity that many novel curricula have been developed. With a growing annual endowment from grants and donors, as well as steadily increasing student enrollment in Auerfarm's education programs, our capacity for growth as an organization has never been higher.

Auerfarm has maintained long-term partnerships with the University of Connecticut, Wintonbury Early Childhood Magnet School, Annie Fisher Montessori School, West Hartford Public Schools/Farmington Valley Post-Secondary Programs, and 4-H. These partnerships have given a diverse range of students with distinct backgrounds and learning needs regular exposure to nature and environmental education. They have also allowed Auerfarm's educators to develop programs that are both scientifically rigorous and flexible enough to accommodate the needs of further diverse student populations. Our organization's recent partnership with the non-profit organization Healing Meals has resulted in a mutually beneficial relationship through which we are able to enhance our education programs with opportunities for students to work in Healing Meal's nourishing and food gardens, which are now housed at the farm. The farm's partnership with the UConn Master Gardner Program similarly allows for student engagement with gardening and also benefits the community by providing organic produce for CT Foodshare. Aside from the success of these partnerships, annual enrollment in Auerfarm's regular education programs has been steadily increasing.

In addition to the successes of Auerfarm's education sector, the farm itself has, through the acquisition of grants and donations, undergone several renovations in the last five years that have resulted in many positive outcomes. The addition of new flower beds, the nourishing garden, and a high tunnel (hoop house) has given students a multitude of spaces in which to learn about agriculture; indoor classroom renovations have created more tactile and stimulating learning environments for farm visitors; and the transformation of a preexisting kitchen area into a commercial kitchen has created a home base for non-profit organizations centered around food production and distribution, such as Healing Meals.

In the future, Auerfarm aims to partner with more schools and non-profit organizations, expand the content of our preexisting education programs while also devising new program concepts, create more programs for adolescents and adults, and improve our farm facilities. In particular, due to our successful expansion of Farmington Valley's post-secondary program to the West Hartford Public School system in recent years, our organization would like to expand this program to more school districts. Lastly, we intend to implement new professional development requirements and opportunities for educators, so as to ensure the utmost quality of education at Auerfarm.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Paper surveys,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve,

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    Auerfarm recently altered its staff structure to be more effective and sustainable in the use of the organization's resources.

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    The people we serve, Our staff, Our board,

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to be consistent in requesting feedback from those we serve,

Financials

Connecticut 4-H Development Fund, Inc
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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Connecticut 4-H Development Fund, Inc

Board of directors
as of 02/08/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Mark Weisman

Tangible Properties, LLC

Term: 2015 - 2021

Lynn Brown

Retired, UConn

Bonnie Burr

Volunteer Management & Development, UConn Cooperative Extension System

Jennifer Cushman

Hartford Co. 4-H Extension Educator, UConn Cooperative Extension System

Mary Eberle

Retired, CT State Legislature

Patricia Estill

Retired, CT Commission on Children

Tammy Exum

CT State Legislature

Earl Gardener

Career Agent, Connecticut Works

Mary Catherine Healey

Psychiatric Social Worker

Aaron Hess

Retired, Loomis Chaffee School

Martha Hess

Retired, Loomis Chaffee School

Ben Kille

Principal, Private Equity Group, LLC

David Kopp

Retired, CIGNA

Kevin Krebsbach

Self-employed

Robert Lyle

Retired, Aetna; Retired, Lyle Associates LLC

Marlene Mayes

Retired, UConn

Nick Miller

Retired, Aetna

Kevin Palache

Legal Shield

Vikki Reski

Cinquefoil

Carlos Rosales

Zero Hazard, LLC

Beth Salsedo

Retired, UConn

Emilee Scott

Robinson+Cole

Jeff Small

Retired, UConn Health

Carlos Rosales

Zero Hazard, LLC

Mark Weisman

Tangible Properties, LLC

Danielle Wong

Bloomfield Town Council; Human Resources Consultant

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 1/7/2022

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Decline to state
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

Disability

Equity strategies

Last updated: 02/19/2020

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We disaggregate data by demographics, including race, in every policy and program measured.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We have a promotion process that anticipates and mitigates implicit and explicit biases about people of color serving in leadership positions.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We measure and then disaggregate job satisfaction and retention data by race, function, level, and/or team.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.