As this issue of The Ag Magazine was coming together, we recognized an unplanned theme—community service.
Notable service seems to be more the rule than the exception around the College, as demonstrated by our graduates like Josh Kerber and Michelle Smith Tipton or our faculty and staff like Professor Melissa Newman with her search-and-rescue activities. And of course, recent coverage of Drs. Carter and Jackson, our veterinarians in Afghanistan, offers a truly exemplary model of service.
Our College’s participation in Fayette County’s Legacy Trail project can also be viewed as voluntary community service at an institutional, rather than an individual, level. Admittedly, the trail creates some significant inconveniences, if not sacrifices, for the College, yet I believe it also promotes our own well-being. Perhaps every bit as important, it is consistent with our values.
The service featured in this issue of the magazine goes above and beyond our people’s work responsibilities, but it also reinforces our institutional commitment. The College’s organizational purpose, our job, is to serve our communities, our state, and our nation. I believe no other college in Kentucky, and very few in the United States, are as committed to serving the public through education, research, and extension.
For more than a century of history, community service has been the heart and soul of UK Cooperative Extension. The county councils, 4-H, Homemakers, and more recent programs such as Master Gardeners are built around principles of service. In this issue, we introduce you to Robert and Ada White who have farmed with support from College researchers and extension for nearly 70 years. And another article focuses on Operation: Military Kids’ free family camps for the families of servicemen and servicewomen deployed overseas.
On campus we strive to foster a sense of community and a spirit of involvement for our students. When we spoke to Melissa Newman about her own volunteer work, she offered an observation about the interaction between organizational and student commitment. “Students today talk about wanting to be able to give back to people in need. So I think there might be some feedback here.”
Can we give credit to our service programs for the extraordinary volunteer service of so many College individuals? Of course not, but there might be a bit of synergy between individual and institutional commitment to service.
M. Scott Smith