TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

Local News

May 14, 2014

Another field day for Whitley Extension Office

Agents were guest speakers at Southern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce

CORBIN — By Jeff Noble / Staff Writer

Using a slide show featuring pictures of Whitley County as far back as 1915, David Perry used those photos to show the evolution of the Whitley County Cooperative Extension Service over the past 100 years.

Perry was the guest speaker at Tuesday’s luncheon meeting of the Southern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce in Williamsburg. But he wasn’t the only one speaking about the role his office has in helping the county’s residents.

Perry — Whitley County’s Extension Agent for 4-H / Youth Development — brought along two other agents to tell their story of what the office was, and how it’s adapted to the times.

Included was Melissa Bond, Extension Agent for Fine Arts, and Garrard Coffey, the Extension Agent for Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Together the three gave updates on what their office has done to help Whitley Countians solve problems, develop skills, and build a better future through information and research from the University of Kentucky’s Cooperative Extension Service.

“Extension is no longer just sheep, hogs, cattle and corn. It has evolved into several things for many people. It’s a non-stop job, but it’s a fun job and you get to meet and help many people. As the times change, we’ve changed,” Perry said during the chamber session, held at the Cumberland Inn.

As an example of what he does, Perry pointed out to programs designed for youth and 4H, such as the Third Grade Extension Field Day, where students participate in workshops on safety, fun and fitness, and other ways they can improve their lives. Another was the “My Government” program for fifth graders, where students learn about local government and the local judicial system.

Along with the special programs, Perry noted the regular 4-H school clubs, activities and events, and individual study products continue to be an essential part of the hands-on learning experience youths have relied on for decades.

“We’ve evolved with 4-H activities that’s not only reaching out to our youth, it’s preparing our youth for their future ahead,” he stated.

Bond was next to speak, pointing out the Whitley County Extension Office is one of three county offices in Kentucky where the UK Cooperative Extension Service has programs for Fine Arts. The other two are in Pike and Greenup counties.

Among those programs she works with are the Whitley County Farmers’ Market, which is held during the season on Tuesdays in Corbin at Nibroc Park, Wednesday in Williamsburg at Bill Woods Park, and Saturday in Goldbug at the Whitley Extension Office on U.S. 25W near exit 15 of I-75.

Another is an exhibit called “Uncommon Wealth,” a legacy of the Kentucky Arts Council Visual Arts Fellowships and the UK Cooperative Extension Service. Bond said it began on April 11, and will continue until June 20th in downtown Williamsburg at the old extension office.

“We have our old Extension Office building, and our Extension Board decided to make it a community center. The exhibit’s there now, and we’ve been asked to extend it for two more weeks into June,” she added.

More about the exhibit can be obtained by calling 549-7373.

Telling the audience “I cover a broad spectrum for everyone,” Coffey also discussed the programs with the Whitley County Farmer’s Market, and went more into detail about the Extension Office’s programs for Agriculture and Natural Resources, such as the Extension Field Day, the Master Gardeners Association, and work with livestock, goat and sheep producers, good agricultural practices, aquaculture and pond management.

“We’re a community-based organization of people. Even though I do the Ag side, I still get questions about trees and lawns and things like that. Everyone’s evolved, so we’ve adapted to the times. For example what they used to call ‘Home Economics” is now “Family and Consumer Sciences,’” he pointed out after the meeting.

Perry acknowledged that Matti Daniels, the Extension Agent for Family and Consumer Sciences, was unable to attend Tuesday’s chamber meeting.

Daniels handles several services, such as consumer programs, using coupons to save money on shopping, the County Extension Homemakers program.

This year of 2014 marks the 100th anniversary of the Smith-Lever Act, a federal law that set up Cooperative Extension service through land-grant universities in the United States through land-grant universities.

The Whitley County Cooperative Extension Service celebrated the 100th anniversary occasion last Thursday with a field day at their Goldbug location

Perry said after the meeting that while agriculture continues to play a role in the local Extension Office, their services will continue to mirror what people need and can be helped with in the years ahead.

“Whitley County has changed. Agriculture’s still a driving force here, but not as it used to be, because we have fewer full-time farmers, and the county’s diversified with different crops and agricultural sources. But people come to us for answers. And if we don’t have the answer, we’ll call UK and they can bring in one of their Extension specialists,” Perry stated.

The next monthly meeting of the Southern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce will be Tuesday, June 10 at 11:45 a.m. at the Corbin Center.

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