In collaboration with the Keeneland Marketing Department, Kentucky Operation: Military Kids (OMK) continues to be a strong force behind the success of Military Appreciation Day held annually at Keeneland’s fall and spring meets. The Kentucky Operation: Military Kids program works to deliver recreational, social, and educational programs for military youth living in civilian communities. This year, the University of Kentucky program provided OMK bracelets, flashlights, Burpee Seed Company seed packets and patriotic crafts through their activity station at Keeneland’s Military Appreciation Day on April 22. Another activity available through OMK allowed children to create a family tree which consisted of four photo frames that kids could put their own pictures in and hang at home.
With this year’s event coinciding with the annual observance of Earth Day, OMK partnered with UK’s Department of Forestry to provide 200 tree seedlings for families at the event. Not only could the kids pick up a Barefoot or American Chestnut seedling, but they also participated in activities with the Forestry Department to help educate them about Earth Day and the importance of using trees to help our environment.
Since 2009, the Kentucky's Operation: Military Kids program, with leadership through Family and Consumer Sciences Extension, has expanded programs and partnerships. The mission has grown from a focus on children and youth to reaching out to all members of the family throughout the entire deployment cycle. Kentucky OMK is "purple," meaning efforts are focused on all branches of the military, National Guard, and Reserve. To learn more about OMK, visit their website at http://www.ca.uky.edu/hes/?p=590.