Meet the Team

Erica BenvenutiCommunity Nutrition Educator, Registered Dietitian
Kimberly Bradley, Connecticut Trail Census/Connecticut Trail Finder Program Manager
Laura Brown
Community and Economic Development Extension Educator
Lindsey Brush
Program Assistant and Nutrition Outreach EFNEP Educator
Aaron Budris
Senior Regional Planner for the Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments
Eniola Fasola
, Graduate Assistant and Data Analyst
Sharon Gray
, Associate Extension Educator, Hartford County EFNEP Supervisor
Anita Morzillo
Associate Professor
Dr. Jenifer Nadeau
, Associate Professor, Equine Extension Specialist
Heather Peracchio
Assistant Extension Educator
Michael Puglisi
Assistant Extension Professor
Khadija Shaikh
Summer Intern for Connecticut Trail Finder/Connecticut Trail Census
Stacey StearnsEducational Program Administrator for UConn Extension
Stephanie Stroud
Community Planner (National Park Service’s Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program)
Neva TaylorSocial Media Coordinator, Podcast Host and Producer
Umekia R. Taylor “Mickey”
Associate Educator, EFNEP Supervisor
Emily Wilson
Geospatial Educator

 

erica benvenuti

Erica Benvenuti (she/her)

 

Community Nutrition Educator, Registered Dietitian

erica.benvenuti@uconn.edu

 

Erica Benvenuti is currently a community nutrition educator and a registered dietitian working on the PATHS (People Active on Trails for Health and Sustainability) team through the University of Connecticut (UConn) Extension Program. She is also part of the Foodcorps in New London County and the UConn Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP). Erica holds farmer’s market demos and activities, and helps organize the Children’s First Groton which encourages the youth to be physically, mentally, educational, and nutritionally well. She received her B.S. degree in Nutrition from Keene State College and a level 2 Certificate of Training in Adult Weight Management: Child and Adolescent Weight Management. 

Outside of work, Erica loves to hike with her kids, saltwater fishing, cooking and feeding people especially from her raised bed garden, and she loves to play games and solve puzzles!!

Kimberly Bradley (she/her)

 

Connecticut Trail Census/Connecticut Trail Finder Program Manager

kimberly.bradley@uconn.edu 

 

Kim Bradley serves as the Connecticut Trail Census and Connecticut Trail Finder Program Manager through the University of Connecticut (UConn) Extension Program. She recently coordinated the launch of the Connecticut Trail Finder website (www.cttrailfinder.com)  a statewide resource for trails across every corner of Connecticut.  Kim communicates, collaborates, and coordinates with volunteers and partnering trail organizations across Connecticut and throughout UConn through both the PATHS, Connecticut Trail Census, and Connecticut Trail Finder Programs.  Kim received her B.S. degree in Environmental Sciences at UConn CLAS, and her M.Sc. degree in Biological Oceanography at UConn Avery Point. 

She is very passionate and dedicated to the protection of natural resources and open spaces, the engagement of individuals and communities in the outdoors, and the public education of how to maintain resilient ecological systems. Outside of work, Kim is an avid mountain biker, hiker, surfer and enjoys volunteering her time getting women and kids on bicycles and exploring the outdoors with her daughters and labrador Huckleberry!

Laura Brown (she/her)

 

Community and Economic Development Extension Educator

laura.brown@uconn.edu

 

Laura Brown is a community and economic development educator through the University of Connecticut’s Extension Program. She currently is part of the administration of the Connecticut Trail Census and Connecitcut Trail Finder projects, as well as the co-coordinator of the PATHS (People Active on Trails for Health and Sustainability) team. Laura has earned an M.S. degree in Urban and Regional Planning and an M.A. degree in Communications and Psychology. 

Outside of work, Laura spends most of her time exploring the outdoors with her family. For many years, she has been a meditator and has recently joined a women’s e-cycling team during the pandemic. She also loves to travel abroad (though it’s been difficult to during the pandemic), practice languages, garden, and cook! 

Lindsey Brush (she/her)

 

Program Assistant and Nutrition Outreach EFNEP Educator

lindsey.brush@uconn.edu

 

Lindsey Brush is a program assistant and nutrition outreach educator for the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) program and she currently works out of the New Haven County Extension office. She also is a member of the PATHS (People Active on Trails for Health and Sustainability) team through the University of Connecticut (UConn) Extension Program and assists in social media posting and creating content. Lindsey is a key facilitator for the EFNEP Social Media committee group as well, which focuses on UConn EFNEP’s specific goals. She graduated from the University of Saint Joseph with a B.S. degree in Nutrition and Wellness. 

With the current three jobs she holds and a two-year-old daughter, Lindsey has little spare time. Though, when she does, she loves to bake with her daughter and find new walking trails to explore. Lindsey also loves to sing, exercise, and explore the outdoors!

Aaron Budris (he/him)

 

Senior Regional Planner for Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments

abudris@nvcogct.gov

 

Aaron Budris is a senior regional environmental planner for the Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments where he focuses on planning for trails, bodies of water, open space, and other natural and cultural resources. He also co-founded the Connecticut Trail Census project with which he provides ongoing support. Aaron received his B.A. in Anthropology and M.S. in Geography from Central Connecticut State University. Outside of work, Aaron loves spending time outside, hiking, biking, grilling, and pulling (or complaining) about invasive plants!

Eniola Fasola (she/her)

 

Graduate Assistant and Data Analyst

eniola.fasola@uconn.edu

 

Eniola Fasola is currently a graduate assistant and data analyst for the Connecticut Trail Census project through the University of Connecticut (UConn) Extension Program. She received her B.S. degree in Economics from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, her M.A. degree in Economics from UConn, and is currently working towards her Ph.D. in Agricultural and Resource Economics from UConn. 

Apart from data analysis, Eniola loves creative design, writing, and empowering people.

Sharon Gray (she/her)

 

Associate Extension Educator, Hartford Country EFNEP Supervisor

sharon.gray@uconn.edu

 

Sharon Gray has been an associate extension educator at the University of Connecticut since 1993 and currently, she works with the PATHS (People Active on Trails for Health and Sustainability) team to promote the public use of trails. Sharon also supervises the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) for Hartford County. With this position, she conducts food and nutrition workshops for community agencies and answers public inquiries. She also oversees a wide variety of grants with a focus on urban underserved families and youth. 

Sharon is interested in the intersections between public health, physical fitness, and food insecurity. She is a registered dietician and provides clinical counseling for patients with metabolic disorders as part of an interdisciplinary care team at the CT Children’s Medical Center in Hartford, CT. 

Sharon earned her B.S. in Nutritional Sciences at Cornell University and her M.S. in Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley. 

Outside of academics, Sharon enjoys birdwatching, hiking, lap swimming, reading, and grilling in the summer. 

Anita Morzillo

 

Associate Professor

anita.morzillo@uconn.edu

 

Anita Morzillo is an associate professor at the University of Connecticut (UConn). They currently serve on the advisory committee for the Connecticut Trail Census project and are part of the PATHS (People Active on Trails for Health and Sustainability) team through UConn’s Extension Program. Anita received their B.S. degree in Biological Sciences from SUNY College at Plattsburgh, M.S. degree in Zoology from Southern Illinois University Carbondale, and a Ph.D. dual degree in Fisheries and Wildlife, and Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Behavior from Michigan State University. Outside of academics, Anita is a four-season outdoor enthusiast!

Dr. Jenifer Nadeau

 

Associate Professor, Equine Extension Specialist

jenifer.nadeau@uconn.edu

 

Dr. Jenifer Nadeau is an associate professor and equine extension specialist at the University of Connecticut (UConn). They currently work as a UConn educator on the PATHS (People Active on Trails for Health and Sustainability) team to promote the use of trails throughout the state. 

Dr. Nadeau received their A.A.S. degree in Agricultural Science at SUNY, B.S. degree in Animal Science, Equine at the University of Kentucky, M.S. degree in Comparative and Experimental Medicine, as well as their Ph.D. in Animal Science at the University of Tennessee. 

Dr. Nadeau loves spending time outdoors, especially hiking, horseback riding, kayaking, and dog training. Their number one passion is horses, they absolutely adore them as well as recreating with their partner Dave and their dogs, Fox and Sheena!

Heather Peracchio (she/her)

 

Associate Extension Educator

heather.peracchio@uconn.edu

 

Heather Peracchio is an assistant extension educator through the University of Connecticut (UConn). She currently works on the PATHS (People Active on Trails for Health and Sustainability) team and serves as the current Connecticut Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Food Security Co-Chair. 

Heather is a UConn Alum! She received both her B.S. in Nutritional Sciences and M.S. in Allied Health Sciences for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention at the University of Connecticut. 

She enjoys cooking, boating, and kayaking on Candlewood Lake, and hiking with her husband and their three children. 

Michael Puglisi

 

Associate Extension Professor

michael.puglisi@uconn.edu

 

Mike Puglisi is an Assistant Extension Professor at the University of Connecticut (UConn) in the Department of Nutritional Sciences and is currently involved on the PATHS (People Active on Trails for Health and Sustainability) team through UConn’s Extension Program. Mike primarily works in the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) and SNAP-Ed, both of which are nutrition education programs that primarily focus on low-income communities throughout the state. In both, Mike works to incorporate physical activity to improve health and promote active lifestyles.

Mike earned his B.S. degree in Dietetics from the University of Delaware, M.S. degree in Sports Nutrition from Virginia Tech, Ph.D. in Nutritional Sciences from UConn, and postdoctoral training in Molecular Physiology and Biophysics from Vanderbilt University. 

Outside of academics and work, Mike enjoys going to the gym, but when gyms closed in March 2020, he started biking outside on trails and roads which he feels has brought a greater appreciation of the mental and physical benefits of outdoor exercise!

Khadija Shaikh (she/her)

 

Summer Intern for Connecticut Trail Finder/Connecticut Trail Census

khadija.shaikh@uconn.edu

 

Khadija Shaikh is the summer intern for the Connecticut Trail Finder and Connecticut Trail Census projects through the University of Connecticut Extension Program. She currently works on the creation of public education outreach materials to promote the use of trails and increase equity in the outdoors. 

Khadija is a rising sophomore at the University of Connecticut, majoring in Environmental Studies with a minor in Social Justice Organizing. She is involved in EcoHusky and UCCO, both of which are student-led organizations focused on the intersectionality of social justice movements. Khadija is passionate about personalizing and decolonizing the environmental movement by working towards the active inclusion and empowerment of marginalized individuals. Outside of being a voice for the climate justice movement, Khadija loves making art, fashion, and being a plant mom!

Stacey Stearns (she/her)

 

Educational Program Administrator for UConn Extension

stacey.stearns@uconn.edu

 

Stacey Stearns is an educational program administrator with the University of Connecticut (UConn) Extension. She manages communications for UConn Extension and is a member of the PATHS (People Active on Trails for Health and Sustainability) team, though she is excited to support all of the trails initiatives however needed. Stacey earned her B.S. degree in Animal Science from UConn and her M.S. in Agricultural Education and Communication from the University of Florida.

Outside of work, Stacey is an equestrian and enjoys exploring the outdoors, especially trails between the two ears of a horse. She competes in endurance (25 and 50-mile rides) with her Morgan horses. Her love for horses led her to be the Connecticut Horse Council Representative on the Connecticut Greenways Council!

Stephanie Stroud (she/her)

 

Community Planner (National Park Service’s Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program)

stephanie_stroud@nps.gov

 

Stephanie Stroud is a community planner for the National Park Service’s (NPS) Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program (RTCA). She is currently providing support to the Connecticut Trails Team as part of an award of assistance from the NPS, through which she has participated in team meetings, helped with organizational development, and contributed to the Trail Impact Series publications. She is also currently working closely with the PATHS (People Active on Trails for Health and Sustainability) team to bring forth a new vision for the incredible group. As a community planner for the RTCA program, Stephanie assists various communities across Southern New England to help them plan for parks and trails. Currently, she is working on several projects in Connecticut, including the Bridgeport Waterfront Pathway, trail connectivity in Hartford, Al’s Trail restoration in Newtown, creating a Trail Town Action Plan in Thompson. Stephanie received her B.S. degree in Landscape Architecture from the University of Connecticut. 

Since the pandemic, Stephanie has started to cultivate a daily art practice. Currently, she is experimenting with making art out of what some people may consider trash! She also loves bicycling, patio gardening, birding in cemeteries, and roller skating in her home city of Boston. You can also find Stephanie playing drums or singing in a local garage rock band!

Neva Taylor (she/her)

 

Social Media Coordinator, Podcast Host and Producer

neva.taylor@uconn.edu

 

Neva Taylor is the social media coordinator for the Connecticut Trail Census project through the University of Connecticut Extension Program. Through this role she started her own podcast, serving as the host and producer for the On the Trail podcast. In the podcast episodes, she highlights diverse stories both on and off the trail. 

Neva is a rising senior at the University of Connecticut, double majoring in Urban and Community Studies and Sociology. Outside of work and academics, Neva enjoys exploring the outdoors, as shown in her picture, she loves hiking!

Umekia R. Taylor “Mickey”

 

Associate Educator, EFNEP Supervisor

umekia.taylor@uconn.edu

 

Umekia R. Taylor, also known as Mickey, is an associate educator and an Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) supervisor. Mickey works on the PATHS (People Active on Trails for Health and Sustainability) team, EFNEP, and on the Anti-Racism team through the University of Connecticut Extension Program. They received their B.S. degree in Clinical Dietetics from Southern Connecticut State University and M.S. degree in Human Performance. Outside of work, Mickey loves to salsa dance and do Zumba, go on nature walks, and tend to their herb garden in the summer!

Emily Wilson (she/her)

 

Geospatial Educator

emily.wilson@uconn.edu

 

Emily Wilson has been a geospatial educator at the University of Connecticut’s (UConn) Center for Land Use Education and Research (CLEAR) since 2000. She is also part of the Connecticut Trail Finder, Connecticut Trail Census, and PATHS (People Active on Trails for Health and Sustainability) team through UConn Extension. She received her B.A. degree in Environmental Science and Botany from Connecticut College and her M.S. degree in Forestry and Remote Sensing from the University of Maine. 

As part of CLEAR, Emily works on many projects that connect water, land, and climate to geospatial technology and maps. Her favorite part is the ah-ha moment when regular people can use maps and map layers to “see” the land in new ways, and make decisions that lead to natural resource protection. 

Most of her free time is spent with her three kids and their different endeavors. Emily loves to hike, bike, read, visit new places, and hang out with her family and friends. She also beat the game Two Dots!! 🙂