College of Agriculture, Food and Environment

Advancement 2013 Annual Report

Jeremy Ashby: Cooking Up A Career

100 Years of Extension

Photo by Stephen Patton

Chef, business owner, and local television host Jeremy Ashby, ’06 hospitality management, has been a friend to Kentucky farmers since he opened his restaurant Azur in 2007. Ashby was committed to using as much local product as possible and even opened a farmers market in the restaurant parking lot to spread the farm-fresh goodness with locals in south Lexington.

Ashby said the market really formed a close-knit community where chefs were learning about the farms and the farmers were eating in the restaurant and learning what they need. The market has been so successful that Bluegrass Farmers Market is taking over operations.

Ashby earned a culinary degree from Johnson and Wales University in Charleston, South Carolina, before earning his bachelor’s degree from the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. Ashby said his UK degree taught him vital skills in marketing, sales, and business accountability.

“Cooking was the easy part,” he said. “The business side of things is a whole other story and it actually makes up about 90 percent of the job at the management level.”

Earlier this year, Ashby, Chef Miguel Rivas, and their Azur partners opened Brasabana in Lexington, serving Cuban cuisine with a Caribbean flare. When he worked as a chef in Charleston and Miami early in his career, Ashby picked up a keen interest in Latin fare.

He said the new venture allows an even deeper relationship to local agriculture.

“More and more farmers were telling me they don’t have a market for their lower-end cuts of meat,” Ashby explained. “But those cuts are actually staples of Latin and Cuban food, where slow-roasting and braising gives them huge appeal. And when you think about it, things that usually accompany Latin food—peppers, onions, garlic, tomatoes, cilantro, and fresh herbs—are in huge abundance at the farmers market.”

— Aimee Nielson

Katie Skarvan: Gone to the Dogs

Katie Sharvan

Photo by Matt Barton

Roger Brown may have said it best in his letter nominating Katie Skarvan, ’14, as a candidate for the humanitarian Sullivan Award.

“Katie Skarvan demonstrates those characteristics of heart, mind, and conduct as evince a spirit of love and helpfulness to other men and women, particularly those who are challenged with disabilities,” wrote the UK agricultural economics professor.

After all, Brown should know. He serves as faculty adviser to Wildcat Service Dogs, a student-run organization that Skarvan founded when she was a freshman. The group trains service dogs for people with disabilities.

Skarvan received the Sullivan Medallion this spring, which UK presents annually to a graduating female, a graduating male, and a citizen who have selflessly given of themselves.

“I was really surprised when I found out. There are some very talented, deserving people that were considered, and I am very honored to even be considered,” Skarvan said. “I am in shock over winning it.”

Skarvan embodies the very definition for which the Sullivan Award was established. She led efforts to secure a State Farm Insurance community service grant of $25,000 for Wildcat Service Dogs that ensures the organization’s future.

“It is the best student-run organization I have worked with,” Brown said. “Katie has a knack for getting people organized.”

Brown said Wildcat Service Dogs is now a “rock-solid” student organization, which Skarvan has handed over to a new group of student leaders. The organization also received the 2014 Outstanding Leadership Award from the UK chapter of Omicron Delta Kappa, the National Leadership Honor Society.

An animal sciences major, Skarvan graduated this spring and is working in a research internship with Alltech this summer.

— Jeff Franklin

Carolyn Workman
Photo by Matt Barton

Carolyn Workman Breeding: Not Many Dull Moments

By her own admission, Carolyn Workman Breeding, ’72 BS home economics, ’78 MS food and nutrition, was not the “be-all, end-all student.” That never held her back though, she often tells UK dietetics students. Her success as an entrepreneur is certainly indicative of that.

Early in her career, Breeding worked in long-term care, first for a small chain of nursing homes and then, when a larger corporation purchased the chain, overseeing half of their 21 care facilities. She loved working in the field.

“In long-term care, I could get to know the patients, have a relationship with them. I felt that I could make a difference.”

In 1991, she went out on her own, starting Dietary Consultants Inc. A succession of profitable service businesses followed, all nontraditional, dietetics-related companies that impacted the long-term care field.

Today, Breeding employs 65 people in four businesses, Dietary Consultants, Quality Provider Services, Breeding and Associates, and Napa Health Care Connections. In her latest venture, she is consulting with school food services on procurement, distribution, and production of food.

Throughout her busy professional life, Breeding has remained active at the district, state, and national levels of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. In 2008, the organization recognized her outstanding service and leadership to the dietetics profession with its Medallion Award. In 2011, she was inducted into the UK School of Human Environmental Sciences Hall of Fame.

“I haven’t had too many dull moments,” Breeding said. “I consider myself lucky, because I’ve had opportunities, and I’ve worked with great people.”

In 2006, Breeding and longtime friend, HES alumna Marianne Smith Edge, BS ’77, created the Breeding-Smith Edge Scholarship, benefiting students pursuing a dietetics internship with a focus in business and consultation.

“You don’t have to be perfect,” Breeding tells students. “You should take a look at your strengths and weaknesses and what you really want out of life, then go for it.”

— Carol Lea Spence

Josh Baker, NRES Academy
Photo by Stephen Patton

NRES Academy: Endow Opportunity

Josh Baker, 15, of Dema in Knott County, didn’t know about the possibilities available in agriculture and natural sciences until his seventh grade science teacher and a librarian at Beaver Creek Elementary suggested he apply for UK’s Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences Academy.

With support from former Knott County 4-H agent Jim Phelps, Josh was accepted into the academy, and this summer the now high school freshman will be a member of its first graduating class.

“If it weren't for the academy I probably would not be interested in science,” Baker said. “I never really enjoyed it, until I was in this program.”

The academy accepts 16 seventh-graders from eight Eastern Kentucky counties each year with the goal of exposing them to opportunities available in their own backyard.

“We chose this age group because studies show this is when students make career choices,” said David Ditsch, director of the academy and UK’s Robinson Center for Appalachian Resource Sustainability. “Robinson Forest is a 10,000-acre controlled research forest; the students learn in one of the most unique settings in the nation.”

Each year of the three-year academy, the scholars spend three days in the forest learning about the Appalachian environment. They also attend quarterly daylong field trips, culminating with a graduating experience. Last year’s experience was to Glacier National Park, Flathead Lake, and Yellowstone National Park.

The academy began through a 4-H2O Water Quality grant. The plan is to establish a $1.25 million endowment to fund future programs, which annually cost $50,000.

Melissa Baker, Josh’s mom, said the academy has greatly benefited her son.

“The academy has helped him to mature and opened his eyes to the job opportunities that are available in agriculture and natural resources and helped him realize what a good place he’s growing up in,” she said.

For more information on donating to the academy’s endowment, contact Marci Hicks, UKAg director of development, 859-257-7200 or