131 Scovell Hall
University of Kentucky
Extension continues to offer support for those dealing with tough economic times. While 34,033 of our clientele reported changes in knowledge, opinions, skills, and aspirations related to economic or enterprise development, more than 16,000 individuals reported implementing at least one financial management strategy learned by participating in Extension programs.
25,978 farmers adopted resource management technologies as a result of Extension programs. In turn, 13,611 reported an increase in profits as a result of adopting new practices.
Efforts toward sustainable agriculture continue to advance in our state. While 15,188 individuals reported an increased awareness due to the work of Extension professionals, 10,480 have implemented best practices that promote sustainable agriculture.
Extension continues to hold leadership development as a major component of program efforts. More than 24,000 citizens learned skills through Extension that they use in their everyday life.
Extension helps young people develop skill sets that allow them to serve as leaders in their communities. 61,375 used these skills in communication and problem solving to address community issues. More than 8,000 youth took the lead in addressing local issues.
A total of 156,641 families were reached with Extension-related information on accessing healthy foods. Of those, 64,277 reported eating more healthy foods, and 22,006 reported supplementing their diets with healthy foods that they produced.
Extension improves environmental quality by encouraging the adoption of safe practices. 17,528 citizens learned more about best practices related to protecting soil resources. Among these individuals, 13,050 adopted one or more practices as a result of Extension programming.
Tourism continues to be a priority in many Kentucky counties. 579 of 1,659 tourism and agritourism businesses, or one out of three, were assisted by Extension.
Kentucky 4-H provides youth with exposure to a number of critical life skills and other subject areas that are pertinent to youth development and academic success. Together, 180,155 youth and adults have demonstrated an increase in practical living skills. Extension 4-H programs have engaged youth in the following:
*Science, Engineering & Technology – 147,417
*Citizenship – 109,011
*Healthy Lifestyles – 75,609
Working differently is not new to Cooperative Extension. Extension tends to be an early adopter—the first to try a new path. Sometimes the path does not go far (remember satellite dishes), and we move on. Sometimes it leads us to exciting new methods for providing information.
Technology, especially that which allows us to reach our clientele in new and preferred ways, seems to be maturing at just the right time. Couple the increased ability to communicate—are we ever disconnected?—with pressures on budget for travel and salaries, and you have need and opportunity.
Extension and the College are using new technologies to leverage our knowledge and resources to do more and do it more efficiently. By using online meeting software for agricultural agent trainings, more than $10,000 in travel costs and more than 1,000 hours, roughly six months, of agent time were saved. More timely training is an added benefit.
Faculty can use on-line meeting software to deliver timely information and interact with farmers in a breakfast meeting in western Kentucky and then teach a grain production class in Lexington at 9 a.m. That’s not just working differently, it’s working more efficiently.
Recently a family and consumer science specialist was able to stream live online lessons to Extension Homemakers in 10 counties. She recorded a second set for later, more convenient viewing for Homemaker clubs. A total of 20 lessons were delivered in the time it normally took for two, without travel time.
Forestry has a fall webinar series and three e-newsletters on specific topics delivered directly to woodland owners' smartphones.
Videos posted on YouTube get messages to hundreds, quicker and at much lower cost than mailing DVDs. Nationally, the eXtension initiative provides collaborative tools to faculty and agents that result in shared resources across state lines and delivery of the “best of the best” to clientele.
Delivering programs by distance technology does not mean the College values traditional delivery less. It does mean that the same people are able to do more, reach more, and improve more lives. That is the right kind of working differently.
Director, Cooperative Extension Service
University of Kentucky
S-107 Agricultural Science Center
Lexington, Kentucky 40546-0091
It’s been said when a student finally understands a concept, or gets their head around a point a teacher is trying to make, a light bulb goes on. That’s literally the case in Campbell County when 4-H youth development agents teach fourth-graders about electricity. The students get to build their very own lamp from an empty soda can, complete with light bulb and lampshade.
“The best part I like about it is when we plug the lamps in and they work; the looks on their faces make it all worth it,” said Owen Prim, Campbell County 4-H youth development agent. “Their faces light up when the light bulb lights up.”
Prim, along with fellow 4-H agent Sherri Broderick, collaborate with elementary schools in Campbell County to engage students in science and electricity programs. The electricity lessons integrate and enhance the curriculum being taught in the schools. At Lincoln Elementary in Dayton, Ky., where 94 percent of students eat free or price-reduced lunches, fourth-grade science teacher Kelly Christen says she couldn’t teach students about electricity without 4-H.
“If it weren't for 4-H, we couldn’t do this activity and have students pay for it,” said Christen.
The lamp kits cost about $10 each, which the 4-H agents provide free of charge. Students bring empty soda cans to have holes drilled in the top and bottom for the body of the lamp. Step-by-step assembly instructions are given to each student, which they must read and follow as the 4-H agents show them how to put the lamps together.
“It’s hands-on learning introducing the concepts of electricity and reinforcing what the teacher has covered with them,” Prim said.
After assembling the lamps, the students get to take them home and can even display them in the county or state fair. In another activity, students use snap circuit kits, which show them how to power a fan or light bulb and how circuits work.
“We reach over 600 urban and rural youth each year with these electricity programs,” said Sherri Broderick.
Time is limited. People are pulled in multiple directions at once. So how does Kentucky Cooperative Extension fit into today’s hectic lifestyle? At least part of the answer lies in the latest technology.
“I think we’re at the crossroads,” said Gary Palmer, Cooperative Extension assistant director of agriculture and natural resources. “We have to figure out how we can deliver the information on their schedule—because producers still want the information we have.”
Instant messaging and meeting software applications can quickly connect Kentucky growers with experts and answers.
According to Palmer, many of the frequent meetings between specialists and agents would not happen without such instant cyber access.
“These meetings contain cutting-edge information, and specialists are able to address agents’ needs more efficiently and cost-effectively,” he said. “We have had serious flooding in some areas of the state in the past. What were producers going to do with those fields they had prepared for corn and were going to have to switch to soybeans? We got information about the options to their agents, and the agents were able to quickly pass along that information to the producers.”
“The biggest plus is being able to stay on top of issues,” said Brandon Sears, Madison County agriculture and natural resources extension agent. “We had issues with nitrate poisoning of livestock, and then we had the aflatoxin issue in grains last year. This system has saved an immense amount of time for everyone.”
Frequent district-wide meetings that connect more producers with specialists are also made possible through the new software. When weed science specialist J.D. Green travels to Boyd County for a presentation, he not only meets with local farmers in the county's Extension office, he also connects live via computer with nearly 200 producers gathered in other offices in the northeastern Kentucky district. And technologies, like USB microscopes paired with meeting software, allow specialists to see a close-up of a disease symptom or an insect, enabling them to identify something in less time than it used to take.
—Breanna Shelton with Carol L. Spence
Launched in 2008, eXtension celebrates its fifth anniversary this month. More than just another information-based website or Internet search engine, eXtension is an interactive learning environment. It provides a forum for researchers, specialists, county agents, and the general public to collaborate and find creative solutions to everyday challenges. At its heart is engagement, with more than 17,000 university experts throughout the land-grant system providing timely and credible information customized to specific regions or states.
Extension Horticulture Professor Rick Durham is UK’s lead on the eXtension Institutionalization and Integration team. He was one of the first subject matter coordinators for consumer horticulture, one of eXtension’s eight original Communities Of Practice. Now more than 70 Communities of Practice make up eXtension’s diverse group of specialty subject areas ranging from dairy production to agritourism. And the number continues to grow.
“It’s exciting!” Durham said. “eXtension has the ability to reach out and connect to a whole new group of people.” He views this new non-traditional audience as urban, technology- and social media-connected, and often more willing to "virtually" seek out expertise from Extension.
“These days people may be more willing to interact with a county office on a less formal basis,” he said. “After initial contact, sooner or later they may decide to come in for a class or soil testing services.”
“We know demographics for Extension are constantly changing.” said Terry Meisenbach, eXtension communications and marketing leader, who works out of California. He offered that many new audiences don’t necessarily want to take the time to drive to the Extension office for information; they want it on the Internet, and they want it now. Ask An Expert, one of eXtension’s best tools—upgraded in December 2012 to Ask An Expert 2.0—offers even more localized answers to agricultural production and consumer questions.
Meisenbach stated that engagement at the county level remains key. “This is a great opportunity for collaboration and creativity as well as service to clientele. Being able to work across state boundaries and bring value back to the institution and its state adds value to local Cooperative Extension.”
Thelma Banks Johnson, 103, passed away Oct. 26, 2012. For 23 years, she served as both a UK Cooperative Extension home economist and a role model.
When she entered the world 44 years after the Civil War and three years before the Titanic hit the iceberg, her future didn't look promising.
Born to cotton field workers—the fifth of six children—she was poor, female, and African-American. In that spring of 1909, white females didn't have a lot of rights, and black females had far fewer.
Her parents kept her in school as long as they could, but after her eighth-grade year, they told her that her education had ended and she would have to labor with them among the rows of cotton. Many people, no doubt most people, would have resigned themselves to their situation.
But not Thelma.
Her life is proof that if the heart and the mind want something badly enough, they will get it no matter what the sacrifice.
Imagine the courage it took a few years later to leave her Florida family and board a train to Savannah, where she enrolled in Georgia State Industrial College’s high school. She combined study with back-aching jobs that included working in kitchens, doing laundry, and cleaning cottages to come up with the $13 tuition and board fee every month.
From there, she went on to get her baccalaureate in home economics and later studied at four additional universities, including the University of Kentucky.
“If I'd had more money, I would have earned a PhD,” she said when she was a mere 100.
Johnson, who moved to Henderson 65 years ago to serve as a home extension agent, racked up more honors than she ever thought possible, including being the first African-American to be elected to public office in Henderson County. She served on the county school board with distinction for eight years, six of them as chairman.
Thelma was once asked how she‘d like to be remembered.
“For being a good person,” she said.
She was one of the very best.
by Judy Jenkins