College of Agriculture, Food and Environment
Cooperative Extension Service 2013 Annual Report
Extension provides practical education to help people, businesses, and communities
build a better future.
Looking Back, Looking Forward
Milestones are worth celebrating. May 8 is the hundred-year anniversary of the signing of the Smith-Lever Act, the legislation that set up the national Cooperative Extension Service. Coming 52 years after the founding of the land-grant university system, it was an acknowledgement that translating relevant research into practical action required a structured system to build trust and educate.
The centennial is a time to celebrate our significant accomplishments in agriculture, natural resources, family and consumer science, 4-H youth development, and community and economic development. Each year, UK extension professionals make more than 7 million contacts and conduct innumerable classes and workshops to improve the lives of Kentuckians.
It is also a time to reflect on the values that got us to this hundredth year, and to envision what extension might look like in the future. In 2012, extension’s Creating Our Future task force identified three core values: our research base, our county-based programming, and marketing. I am happy to say that those core values are fully supported by the college and by Dean Nancy Cox.
These core values are true to our past and give us several insights into our future. Our research base determines our ability to produce meaningful change in Kentucky’s farms, families, kids, and communities. The emphasis on strong county programs means that we have to make the investment to build relationships and to develop programs and solutions that are directly relevant to our clientele. This critically important interaction driven by our county councils and robust discussions, replicated hundreds of times each year, identifies needs, evaluates programs and provides needed feedback for the future direction for problem-solving research at the university and especially in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment.
Looking forward, Cooperative Extension’s role in the college and the university is important and needed now, just as it was 100 years ago. The products, the methods and the people may change, but not our mission to make a difference. Happy Centennial, Cooperative Extension!
–Jimmy C. Henning
Director, Ky. Cooperative Extension Service
University of Kentucky
S-107 Agricultural Science Center
Lexington, KY 40546-0091
Extension Builds Strong Bodies
The health of the commonwealth depends on the health of its people. UK Cooperative Extension, with a multitude of research-based programs and passionate agents, is determined to make a healthy difference in Kentucky’s future. Across the state, agents are giving their constituents the tools to build strong bodies, inside and out, physically and mentally.
The Beauty of Exercise
The natural beauty of the Daniel Boone National Forest fills McCreary County, yet many county residents don't spend a lot of time, if any, exploring the natural beauty from the more than 200 miles of local hiking trails. So extension agent Greg Whitis, who serves in the capacity of both ag and natural resources and 4-H youth development, started a hiking program in 2006 in conjunction with the local middle school. The intent in introducing the students to sensory-rich nature was to encourage the kids to be more physically active, as well as help to stimulate the neurons that create concepts and ideas in their developing brains.
Today, the program has expanded to include adults and other young people. In 2013, 88 people, both locals and visitors from six other states, participated in the program. Whitis led an average of 22 people on 11 separate hikes of about 5 miles each. The results? Everyone involved reported that they are now in better physical condition since starting the hiking program, and 79 percent reported they have increased the time they spend outdoors due to the program.
SPARK the Fun
Out west in Todd County, Lee Ann McCuiston might be considered a drill sergeant—if the kids weren’t enjoying themselves so much. McCuiston, 4-H youth development agent, partners with the 21st Century Learning Center director and the Youth Service Center coordinator in Todd County to provide circuit training for students every Thursday after school. They stretch and go through a series of strength-training exercises known as circuits. That is followed by a nutrition lesson. Rounding out the 50-minute sessions are fun activities pulled from extension’s SPARK curriculum. SPARK stands for Sports, Play, and Active Recreation for Kids. It’s an opportunity for the youngsters to build strength and endurance while making some favorable changes in body composition. Does it work? The students report they are eating better and they’re exercising at home. When it comes to motivation, sometimes all it takes is a spark.
Wellness on the Job
A major transportation company approached Floyd County family and consumer sciences agent Theresa Scott to start a health and wellness program for its employees. The original focus was on weight loss and management, and for that Scott relied on the curriculum from the successful extension program, Weight: The Reality Series. But as she and her summer intern, now Magoffin County FCS agent Andrea Johnson, worked with participants one-on-one over six months, they began to tailor the program to meet participants’ individual needs. For people with diabetes and other health problems she pulled from extension’s diabetes curriculum and numerous publications. The length of the program helped make any behavior changes permanent. Scott is satisfied. “They really made a lot of changes that will help their health,” she said.
UK Cooperative Extension isn’t taking Kentucky’s reputation for poor health standing still.
Extension Means Business
Entrepreneurs mean business and business means a strong economy. That’s why UK Cooperative Extension focuses many of its resources on growing successful entrepreneurs from the ground up.
Farmers are Entrepreneurs
Farming might not be the first thing that comes to mind when people think of traditional entrepreneurial endeavors, but agriculture and natural resources agents know better. In the Buffalo Trace counties of Bracken, Fleming, Lewis, Mason, and Robertson, ANR agents saw more women taking on farm management roles. David Appleman in Bracken County, Tad Campbell in Mason County, former agent Jeff Smith in Fleming County, and Philip Knopka in Lewis County coordinated their efforts and began offering women-only workshops and tours, bringing in female presenters whenever they could. The 20 to 50 women participants from all five Buffalo Trace counties have learned things such as tractor maintenance, weed control, hay quality, and finances. They also visited area farms and agribusinesses to learn different options for their own operations—all in an atmosphere conducive to asking questions.
For beginning farmers and those who are thinking about getting into farming–male or female–KyFarmStart offers a two-year, whole-farm management education program through local extension offices. The first KyFarmStart class began in 2010 in four locations: Western Kentucky, Somerset, the northern Bluegrass and Central Kentucky. Today the program boasts more than 375 graduates from 40 counties.
The Kentucky Entrepreneurial Coaches Institute has made a big impact on the state in the nine years it’s been in existence. The program trains coaches–many of whom are extension agents–in 41 tobacco-dependent counties in eastern and southern Kentucky. In Butler County, agriculture and natural resources agent Greg Drake II, 4-H youth development agent Lloyd Saylor, and two volunteer leaders are graduates of KECI. The four, working together as a team, have coached 20 businesses using their vast resource of extension materials. Together with the Butler County Community Advisory Committee, the Mammoth Cave Resource Conservation and Development Council, Morgantown city council, and the Butler County Fiscal Court, they created the Morgantown/Butler County small business incubator program. The program offers new business owners support that includes coaching and assistance with costs associated with opening a business. So far, three new businesses have been helped by the incubator program.
The Sooner, the Better
Get them early and teach them young. That could very well be the goal behind the 4-H Means Business Club and the Be the E(ntrepreneur) program. In Nelson County, seven youth-owned businesses have developed after 4-H youth development agent Danielle Hutchins started a Micro Business Alliance Youth Entrepreneur Club. She uses the curriculum from Be the E, partners with local businesses, and arranges for presentations from local experts. After developing business plans and sales opportunities in both the local and state arenas, club members have reported more than $3,500 in income.
Studies have shown that small businesses are responsible for the creation of most of the new jobs in the country. More jobs strengthen the economy. That’s why Cooperative Extension means business.
Important LessonsOur schools want fresh foods for their students. Kentuckians in general want access to fresh affordable foods. Many children don’t even know where their food comes from. And farmers need to open up more local markets for their products. Extension’s work with farm to school programs provides an answer to each of those issues.
Grow It, Kentucky!
Where some saw 10 acres of idle farmland next to the Owsley County elementary and high schools, a group of UK students saw the opportunity to start a farm-to-school project. They invited Owsley County extension and other local agencies to join them in Homegrown Kentucky. The program’s mission was to teach students about where food comes from and how it is grown, to provide fresh, nutritional food for the school cafeteria, and to create a community garden for the 15 families who were interested in participating. Agriculture and natural resources agent Paul Sizemore held a mandatory workshop to teach the basics of growing and marketing vegetables to students and adults who signed up for the project.
From that first growing season came approximately 4,000 pounds of vegetables. The school cafeteria used 80 percent of the harvest. Students sold the rest at the farmers market, earning income for next year’s supplies. The 2014 garden is on track to be even bigger, with more students and nearly twice the families eagerly looking forward to participating.
In Boone County, people affectionately call agriculture and natural resources agent Jerry Brown’s farm-to-school gardening program The Salsa Project. It’s a good name, considering that to-date $40,000 worth of salsa has been grown, processed, and sold. In a one-acre field located on extension property, students in the Boone County Summer Bridge program and adult volunteers painstakingly cared for 1,200 tomato plants and 800 pepper plants. The experience taught the young people the ins and outs of food production, from land selection and preparation, through soil testing, fertilizers, plasticulture, drip irrigation, weeding, and harvest, on to food processing and marketing. The money they earned will go back into this year’s garden as well as fund the bridge program. But more importantly, the lessons they learned will stay with them throughout their lives.
Cooperate to Grow!
Amanda Sears, horticulture agent in Madison County, recognized that the farm-to-school program in her county needed to be updated due to changes in state and federal regulations, so she held an open forum for producers who were interested in selling their produce to the schools. Out of that meeting grew an idea: Why compete with each other? If farmers could place their bids as one, they could all profit. A grower cooperative was formed. Last year, seven growers presented bids to the Madison County school board. They continue to meet regularly to set prices by checking auction and wholesale dealer prices.
Farm-to-school— another of Kentucky Cooperative Extension's important lessons.