Dawn Pettinelli

Associate Extension Educator, Director of Home & Garden Education Center, Director of Soil & Nutrient Analysis Lab

Professional Credentials

  • Certified Master Composter, 2011, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI
  • Certified Master Gardner, 1986, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA
  • MS, Forest Science, 1984, Oregon State University
  • BS, Agricultural Production, 1977, Montana State University
  • BS, Natural Resources, 1973-1976, University of Massachusetts


Manages/coordinates activities of the UConn Home & Garden Education Center and the UConn Soil Nutrient Analysis Laboratory.

The UConn Home and Garden Education Center addresses the needs of Connecticut residents on a wide variety of topics including horticulture, soil testing, home pest control, environmental/pesticide issues and food safety. Clients are educated in best management practices for pest control, soil and water quality, and plant cultural techniques. The goal of the Center is to be a highly respected and visible education outreach program by providing accurate, thorough, and timely information to the citizens of Connecticut. The Center supports the Master Gardener Coordinators in the 8 counties and at the Bartlett Arboretum in Stamford by supplying program instructors and diagnostic assistance. The Center also administrates the UConn Master Composter Program. Visit our weekly horticulture blog Ladybug Blog or call our toll-free number with your gardening or pest questions: (877) 486-6271.

In 2006, the Center opened the UConn Plant Diagnostic Laboratory, currently managed by Dr. Nick Goltz, and which participates in the National Plant Diagnostic Network.

The UConn Soil Nutrient Analysis Laboratory functions dually, as an educational center that focuses on soil, soil fertility, and soil contamination issues and as a service laboratory that offers soil fertility testing to commercial agriculture producers, the green industry, homeowners, and researchers. Starting in 2007, the laboratory began testing soils for lead. Our goal is to increase the public’s awareness of the benefits of soil testing and the necessity of environmentally sound soil fertility management programs. The lab also functions as a teaching resource where CAHNR graduate students learn to run their samples on sophisticated equipment and as a base for numerous outreach activities.

Activities to implement the goals of both facilities include educational presentations, press releases, fact sheets, displays, laboratory upgrades and protocol development, UConn Master Composter Program, television and radio, weekly newspaper columns, websites, free plant and soil pH clinics at events like the CT Flower & Garden Show, a weekly blog, monthly e-updates and development and participation in activities such as the UConn Work Life Expo.

Professional Societies

  • Soil Society of Southern New England, professional member
  • Soil Science Society of America, member
  • GardenComm (formerly Garden Writers Association), professional member


  • Doris Lane Award, Outreach/Public Engagement. UConn Cooperative Extension. 2018
  • Arland R. Meade Communications Award, Outreach/Public Engagement, UConn Cooperative Extension. 2014
  • CNLA Accreditation Program, Citation for service. 2010
  • National Future Farmers of America, Citation for service. 1999
  • Exotic Cage Bird Society of New England, Citation for service. 1988


  • Soil Fertility
  • Soil Health
  • Composting & Compost Education
  • Horticulture Education
  • Organic Gardening

Not Accepting Graduate Students

Contact Information
Mailing AddressSoil Nutrient Analysis Laboratory 6 Sherman Place, Unit 5102 Storrs, Connecticut 06269-5102
Office LocationDepot Campus, Union Cottage