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This is the eighth in a series of articles on the history of the extension service in Owen County.
By Judy Hetterman
Owen County Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Agent
The Cooperative Extension Service celebrated its 75th anniversary on May 8, 1989. As a part of the celebration, all former agents or surviving spouses and children were invited back to the spring county extension council meeting, with an open invitation to all county residents who would like to meet them again. An open house and tour of the local Extension Office (2nd floor of the Old People’s Bank building) with displays and discussions of how extension personnel distributes information to the public.
The county extension council is the major advisory group that deals with issues affecting the whole county. The most recent recommendations from the council included the following:
• Developing Youth and Young Adults as working members of the community.
• Developing a Local Tourism Industry.
• Maintaining a profitable agricultural economy.
• Improving water quality.
Environmental protection has become one of the foremost issues in the country today. It affects Owen Countians in the form of pesticide use, water quality, soil conservation, and solid wastes, in particular. Appropriate soil management practices are promoted such as soil testing, proper rotations, cover crops, potentials for no-tillage, and other methods of reducing soil erosion are stressed.
Burley tobacco brings in over 50 percent of the total farm income annually. Producing a good crop is important to each individual producer and to the whole county economy. Programs held for producers during the last year:
• A demonstration of the greenhouse float system
• A demonstration of experimental tobacco harvesters
• A cable-hoist housing demonstration
• Plant bed mulch demonstration
David Chappell participated in the Phillip Morris Agricultural Leadership Development Program.
Many people are becoming interested in producing their own fruits and vegetables. Some are interested just as a hobby, for others it is the only remaining direct tie to agriculture, and still others are becoming concerned about the quality of purchased produce.
During the last generation, the lifestyles of families have changed dramatically. More mothers work now than did a generation ago and the needs of families continues to change.
There are 12 organized homemaker clubs in different geographic locations in the county with a county membership of 224. Patti Gaines won their “Ought to be a Law” contest wearing seat belts at the state extension homemaker meeting. This suggestion did end up becoming a state law.
This year during the fourth and fifth grade 4-H Club meetings, a program called “Staying Home Alone” was used to help teach responsibility and encourage self-reliance to over 300 youth.
Health and nutrition fair “Super You” was held for 850 youth at Owen County Elementary School. The program introduced and reminded children of the importance of good nutrition and daily exercise.
The American Private Enterprise System was an annual event which was designed to teach high school juniors and seniors how the United States economic system functions. Twenty-five students participated in a three-day event with five advancing to the state seminar. Stacey Martin won a trip to the national program which was held in Indianapolis.
Troy Keith was the 4-H State Record Book winner and received a trip to National 4-H Congress in Chicago.
Ashley Stewart was a state finalist in the 4-H State Fashion Revue held during 4-H Senior Conference.
New 4-H Agent Bill Hughes said he had seen above normal increase in the number of 4-Hers participating in what was considered traditional projects such as sewing, cooking and livestock projects.
In 1991, there was a Northern Kentucky Area Leadership Conference. The program, consisted of three two-day seminars which provided training in the area of leadership styles, public appearance, self-improvement, teamwork, personal motivation and understanding and working within the public policy system. Participants from the county were Larry Ayres, Jenny Coyle, Patti Gaines, Verna Payne, Jeff Perkins and Bill Prather.
Katie Columbia became the new secretary and receptionist after Betty Parker retired.
Owen contains recognized for accomplishments were:
• Frank Downing - University of Kentucky Agricultural Alumni Association president.
• Billy Duvall - Vice president of Kentucky Artificial Breeders Association.
• Representative Clay Crupper - 1991 Thomas Poe Cooper Farm Leadership Award.
• Elizabeth Prewitt - University of Kentucky, Northern Kentucky Distinguished alumni.
• Gail Waldrop - Kentucky Association of Extension Home Economists Outstanding Paraprofessional Award.
• Judy Hetterman - President of the Kentucky Association of Extension Home Economist.
• Nancy Prather - State Fashion Revue Champion in Clothing Selection.
• Laura Keith - 4-H State champion for Public Speaking and Record Book.
• Gene Ray Stewart and Laura Keith - State Demonstration winners in team demonstration on horses.
• Troy Keith won grand champion FFA market lamb and reserve supreme champion at the 1991 Kentucky State Fair. This accomplishment allowed Troy to compete in the Sale of Champions. Troy’s lamb sold for over $8,000. Troy contributes much of his success to being involved in the 4-H program over the years.
Farm Family Pride Awards: Noven and Geraldine Glass, Larry and Sherry Ayres, Roy and Marge Johnson and W. A. and Carolyn Grisham.
The enactment of the extension district tax in 1991 gave the extension service more long-term stability in local funding.
In 1992, Owen County Extension Homemakers designed a bicentennial quilt to hang in the Owen County Courthouse in recognition of the Kentucky Bicentennial Celebration.
The Owen County 4-H Council sponsored a hunter safety course in cooperation with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife. Ninety individuals attended the 10-hour course with 87 receiving certification.
Through the Family Development and Management Council, the second annual Community Service Fair was held on the courthouse lawn with 20 agencies participating setting up exhibits to illustrate what services each agency provides.
Gene Ray Stewart won the state record book competition in the horse division. He attended the National 4-H Congress held in Chicago.
In 1993, Owen County Extension Service was awarded a $1,500 grant from the University of Kentucky through the RJ Reynolds Award of Excellence in Tobacco program. This money was used to purchase a notebook computer. Computer was used with farmers to develop a farm financial management program.
Luv-An-Egg program was presented to fourth and fifth graders at the elementary school to teach food safety, nutrition and food preparation techniques. This is one of the best programs presented at school according to teacher, students and parents.
Martha Smith became a certified master volunteer in clothing construction. She teaches youth and adults sewing.
Jessica Cull was the winner of two Kodak awards in photography at the Kentucky State Fair. Her pictures travel on a national tour.
Gayla Fitzgerald won a scholarship to National Youth Seminar for the American Private Enterprise Seminar.
Gene Ray Stewart was a winner of Steve Jackson Award in state horse judging competition.
In 1993, two community clubs were organized (one in New Columbus and one in New Liberty/Wheatley) with 13 leaders and 35 4-H members. Seventy-eight youth, nine junior counselors and six adults attend 4-H camp for five days.
Greg Brown attended National Conference, National Institute for Cooperatives in Washington, D.C.
The Owen County Extension Homemakers are provided memoirs in honor of Hazel Jo Arnold, home demonstration agent 1949-1957 until her death in 1993.
The award was given to Joyce True who had the most exhibit hall points during the fair. This will be a continuing award each year and a plaque hangs in the extension office with a list of winners each year.
“Diamonds Aren’t Forever” was the first mystery dinner theater for the community sponsored by extension homemakers with over 230 people attending. Helen Kramer, writer, and her cast gave many hours toward the success of this event.
In 1994, James E. Cammack served as a research test cooperator with the University of Kentucky Experiment Station. He participated in a study to determine whether or not sub-soiling is feasible in Eden Hills soils. Results showed that there was no yield response to sub-soiling last year.
Total Quality Management is a concept that has been making the rounds in the business world. Relating to beef cattle industry, the program was designed as an educational program to assist cattle producers in improving the quality of their operations to be profitable and meet the needs of the marketing and ultimately the beef consumer.
For the past four years, the thistlehead weevil has been released in various locations in Owen County. This insect feeds on the seed-head of the nodding thistle. Over a period of time, research has shown that these weevils can result in up to 95 percent reduction in the number of thistles in the area.
Kim Strohmeier was president of the Kentucky Association County Agricultural Agents.
Carol Leggett and Judy Hetterman were speakers during Family Resource Coalition National Conference in Chicago regarding the Ready Fair in Owen County.
In 1995, Laura Utterback becomes 4-H/youth development agent.
The Big Bird Association is born. A number of ostrich, emu and rhea producers in Owen and surrounding counties have formed the Northern Kentucky Big Bird Association, for the purpose of promoting the fledging industry in the area, and to find and develop markets for the meat and by-products, as well as to provide educational opportunities for producers and potential producers. The group has investigated various marketing possibilities, including the potentials of forming a local marketing cooperative. They have decided that a local cooperative is not in their best interests, and individual members are looking at joining an established coop in Western Kentucky.
The group has begun some local promotional activities – displaying birds and providing cookouts featuring big bird steaks and burger. Most of the association members have taken an active part in at least one of the promotional activities.
Extension leaders and staff make plans for a new extension office. Owen County Extension District Foundation was formed to provide leadership for the funding and development of the new Owen County Cooperative Extension Center. J. Quintin Biagi, PSC, Architect from Shelbyville drew the plans for a 9800 square foot building on 1.58 acres on Howard Ellis Highway adjacent to fairgrounds.
Since extension just recently started receiving funds through the taxing district, there was no extra money to build a building. Agents requested assistance from Mike Richie, University of Kentucky to help develop plans on raising $125,000 for the building. Through donations and pledges over the next five years, the project would be constructed by East and Westbrook Construction Co., Inc. from Buckner.
Timeline of building project 1993 – 1997:
• 1991 – Extension Taxing District Formed
• 1993 – Committee formed to relocate Extension Office
• Spring 1994 – Architects to design new office
• Nov. 7, 1994 – Architect J. Qunitin Biagi, P.S.C., hired
• Spring 1995 – Building site selected
• June 1995 – First pledge made to the building project
• Dec. 14, 1995 – District Foundation formed
• Dec. 31, 1995 - $114, 000 had been pledged to the building project
• Mar. 21, 1996 – Land purchased
• April 1, 1996 – Opening of construction bid
• May 28, 1996 – Construction bid accepted
• June 14, 1996 – Ground breaking
• June 30, 1996 – $172,589 had been pledged to the building project (165) donors
• July 22, 1996 – East & Westbrook Construction Co., Inc. began construction
• Nov. 19, 1996 – Extension office moved to new building
• Nov. 22 and 23, 1996 – “Deck the Halls” decorated for open house
• Nov. 24, 1996 – Open house for the New Owen County Cooperative Extension Center
• Nov. 30, 1997 - $211,000 had been pledged to the building project (243 donors)
• June 30, 1997 - $216,000 had been pledged to the building project (over 250 donors)
• June 30, 1997 – 154 meetings have been held in the meeting rooms since December
Thanks to the many leaders who believed in an impossible dream, that impossible dream became reality. In a county of 9,000 people, about 8 percent of the county’s total population was represented by a household that gave to the project.
Many leaders and businesses were recognized during the Open House with over 350 people attending this special event. Several special dedications were made: O.D. and Bessie Hawkins, Eden Shale Hall; David Lyons Leadership Hall; and Carroll Hunt Bourne Conference Room.
This building is yours to enjoy for many, many years to come, and thanks to everyone who made this possible.
In 1996, Dallas Stafford became the 4-H/youth development agent for the second time.
The Family and Development and Management Advisory Council is a representation of thirty community agencies and organizations. The council meets on a regular basis and helped sponsor the Ready Fair at the beginning of the new school year, and Christmas Project 1996 for 82 limited resource families.
The Ready Fair was attended by 237 primary and elementary school children and 115 families. Community agencies set up exhibits to showcase their programs and provide information and supplies for children attending school. As most items that were given away were donated, the cost for the fair was minimal at $3,500. The children and their families enjoyed the afternoon of fun and preparation for school.
The Christmas Project 1996 was the cooperation of the advisory council, families, businesses, agencies, and church groups helping to provide Christmas for families in the community. Over $10,000 of toys, clothing, and food was donated to 82 families at Christmas.
Gary and Darlene Hunter, Frank and Norma McDonald, David and Freida Smith, Charles and Nannie Margaret Howard were the Farm Family Pride Award Winners.
In 1997, Donette Gaines became the new 4-H agent.
Owen Countians recognized for accomplishments:
• Ronna Vandt – State 4-H Fashion Revue semifinalist, Kentucky State Fair class champion in home environment and State 4-H demonstration.
• Chasity Smoot – State 4-H Fashion Revue semifinalist.
• David O’Toole – State 4-H demonstration participant, Kentucky State Fair class champion in rabbit and class champion and reserve champion in 4-H breeding sheep.
• Bradley Allnutt – State demonstration participant.
• Nicholas Miller – Outstanding 4-H Boy, Kentucky State Fair class champion in 4-H crops, 4-H home environment and 4-H market lamb grand champion.
• Charlotte Vandt – Outstanding 4-H girl
• Chris Hetterman – Kentucky State Fair class champion and grand champion in 4-H forestry and class champion in 4-H geology, Owen County 4-H Fair best of show recipient.
• Elizabeth Perkins – Kentucky state fair class champion 4-H sheep.
• Andy Minch – Kentucky State Fair class champion 4-H sheep
• Lyndsay Leggett, Matt Miller, Maggie Pickelsimer, Jessica Cull and Melanie Lee were named delegates to State American Private Enterprise System Convention.
• Jeff Wright – President of Owen County Beef Cattle Association.
• Laura Keith – University of Kentucky Algernon Sydney Sullivan Medallion Award and College of Human Environmental Sciences Maurice Clay Award.
• Elsie Samford – Northern Kentucky Area Master Farm Homemaker Award.
• Owen County Women’s Cancer Coalition – Received $1,500 grant to promote women’s cancer awareness.