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This is the ninth in a series of articles on the history of the extension service in Owen County.
1998 - 2004
By Judy Hetterman
Owen County Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Agent
What’s new at the Owen County Extension Center?
• Since the opening of the extension center, there have been 402 meetings held. There was a great need for the space to be divided into two meeting rooms. Therefore, a movable, dividing wall has been installed.
• Window treatments for the Eden Shale Hall and Carroll Hunt Bourne Conference Room were made by the Owen County Extension Homemakers.
• American, Kentucky and 4-H flags are now available for use during meetings and events.
• The piano was donated by the Rotary and Lions clubs.
• Monthly displays in David Lyons Leadership Hall (i.e. June is Dairy Month, 4-H Fashion Revue, Area Extension Homemaker Cultural Arts Winners, Food Safety, Water Awareness and much more).
• We finally have grass, grass, grass thanks to Charles Wright and Mother Nature.
KEHA members are dedicated to making their communities a better place.
• Held fundraisers and donated over $3,000 for kitchen equipment in Community Meeting Room.
• Provided leadership for the two exhibit buildings at the Owen County Fair with 1,541 entries for a total of $2,686.50 in prize money.
• Collected pull tabs from aluminum cans to help with cancer at the University of Kentucky’s Medical Center’s Childrens Wing. Donated $150 for children’s Spanish books to be sent to Honduras.
• Sponsored the Christmas parade along with local merchants, Woman’s Club, Arts Council, Rotary Club, Lions Club and Optimist Club with over 40 entries in the parade. Merchants contributed $1,490 in donations for this special event.
• Members made 65 teddy bears to give to children at the local hospital as a child entered the hospital for care.
• Donated $150 to ovarian cancer research at the University of Kentucky as well as assisted the Owen County Women’s Cancer Coalition to assemble and distribute educational information.
• Decorated the primary and elementary school cafeteria and provided 1,100 cupcakes for students and faculty at Thanksgiving.
• Sponsored Santa’s Castle and donated items with over 300 children attending ($557.95 was made from over 1,200 items sold).
• Served etiquette luncheon for Bowling Middle School students.
• Provided sponsorship for 4-H club activities.
The family development and management program is designed to teach resource management and family development skills to limited resource families.
During this time, a total of 40 families have received intensive one-on-one training on developing home and family skills. Seventy adult group meetings, some of which were PACE, GED and Even Start groups, were held with a total of 400 people in attendance. FDM Assistant put up a total of 20 displays. The following topics were taught: Budgeting; food safety and storage; cleaning; food pyramid; nutritious snacks; correct table setting; food preservation; safety in the home; stress management; gardening; planting flowers and easy and expensive gift ideas.
To reach the youth, family meetings and 4-H Club meetings were held throughout the year with a total attendance of 2,200. The following topics were covered: Heritage foods; Colonial Day at the elementary school; Ready Fair; three-day camps; health and nutrition fair; snacks that are good for your bones; Reality Store; and the Christmas Project 1997 for needy families.
Reality struck home during the 1998 4-H Year.
The school principal and teachers at the middle school expressed a need for students to realize the importance of education and its effect on future lifestyles.
With this in mind, the Owen County Extension 4-H/Youth Development Program, in collaboration with the counselor, work force preparation teacher and the principal, organized a reality store for all eighth-grade students. Funding for the program was provided by the youth service center and the 4-H Council.
Forty-one volunteers were recruited from local businesses to provide this educational experience to 165 eighth-grade students.
Participants chose careers from categories based on their grade-point average were given a monthly salary and challenged to make ends meet as they purchased items to meet their daily necessities.
After completing the program, 78 percent of the students reported that they definitely intended to try harder in school and 21 percent reported they may try harder in school. 70 percent reported they wanted to definitely get more education after high school; 84 percent indicated they had definitely learned the importance of making wise financial decisions; and 82 percent reported a definite desire to save money.
During the 1997-98 program year, gun safety and education among young people has become a national concern. Recognizing this need and the desire to reach audiences not traditionally reached by the 4-H/youth development program, brought about planning and implementation of a new 4-H project area - shooting sports.
The content of this new program focuses on the core concepts of safety, ethical development, personal responsibility and life-time recreational skills.
Like other 4-H projects, shooting sports has a subject matter base linked to natural resources, wildlife, outdoor recreation and safety.
To date, over 40 4-Hers and parents have successfully completed the hunter education program. Four adult volunteer leaders, many of which are a total new audience for 4-H, have received coaching certifications to conduct the program. Shooting Sports is just one more new way to meet the needs of today’s youth through cooperative extension programming.
Tobacco float production – the most recent innovation in tobacco production involves the float method of producing transplants. While it provides numerous advantages to the conventional plant beds, it is a completely new management system with a lot of unanswered questions to specific problems.
Recent research has centered around trying to answer some of these questions. This has included local studies in tray filling, insect movement, soil mix types and temperature variations.
Over the last few years, a number of changes have been made that help tobacco growers manage these systems. Ventilation systems in many greenhouses have been improved and a number of growers have made changes in how they manage these systems. Over-fertilization is not near the problem it used to be and a lot of growers are adopting a strict fungicide spray schedule.
A result of some of these management changes has been that in spite of the extremely wet springs that have delayed tobacco setting for several weeks and put a severe stress on the health of the transplants that last two years, most growers have had enough plants to set their crop and still have had some let over.
Owen countians recognized for accomplishments in 1998:
• Bill Carter and Marie Snell, Ricky and Lana Snell, Don and Judy Prather, Arvin and Connie Prather, W.B. and FaDana Bramblett – Farm Family Award winners.
• Emily Mikel – State Fashion Revue participant.
• David O’Toole – State 4-H Demonstration champion and Area 4-H Resume champion.
• Owen County Extension Homemakers – Hosted 30 extension professionals from across the U.S. for lunch during Galaxy Summit Conference Tour of the new Owen County Extension Center.
• Chasity Smoot – State 4-H Fashion Revue winner in Fashion Magic category.
• Ronna Vandt – State Fashion Revue participant and 4-H Bronze Medal honor.
CHARACTER COUNTS – The cooperative extension service, through the 4-H/Youth Development program, sponsored and coordinated this program involving 425 middle school students.
This program focused on the development of six pillars of character: respect, responsibility, trustworthiness, fairness, caring and citizenship. All faculty members were trained on teaching this curriculum and provided with the resource materials needed to carry out the program by the cooperative extension agent for 4-H/youth development.
Since the implementation of the program, the school counselor has reported a 60-percent decrease in violent disruptive behavior as documented in discipline records at the school and credits this program for the decrease. Substitute teachers and lunchroom staff have also commented on the positive change in the school. Students show evidence of the impact the program has had. For example, when a student was questioned about his behavior his reply was, “I know responsibility counts!”
Talking with T. J. – Teamwork, cooperation and conflict resolution are necessities in today’s work and school environments. Society is recognizing the importance of team building skills and the dire need for effective conflict resolution everyday as the school violence continues to increase and schools are looking for ways to implement this into their curriculums.
Focusing on this need, the cooperative extension service 4-H/youth development program conducted a six-part teamwork and conflict resolution program with all fourth and fifth-grade students, approximately 250 students. Students were taught monthly conflict resolution and team-building skills which were designed to help children get along and deal with challenges as they get older.
Spring Extension Day – A goal of the cooperative extension service council is to develop leadership among clientele. With this goal in mind, and the need to make the general public aware of the educational opportunities available through the extension service, the Owen County Extension Council, under the direction of the extension agents, organized and implemented a spring extension day with educational workshops and displays for the entire family, in which over 200 people participated.
Pesticide Program – Pesticides play an extremely important role in commercial agricultural production in Owen County. However, society has demanded greater accountability from those in agriculture who use pesticides, because of the potential health and human hazards.
The Owen County Cooperative Extension Service has conducted a variety of educational meetings to inform and remind farmers of the safe, responsible use of pesticides and let them know the specifics of various pesticide-related laws that affect them.
A recent survey showed that a majority of respondents were making use of this information. Half of those returning the survey had begun formally training their employees on safe pesticide use and three-fourths had made changes to comply with the relatively new law. 80 percent reported that they triple rinse pesticide containers and calibrate their sprayer at least once a year. Wearing eye protection and wearing rubber gloves when mixing and using pesticides was reported by 75 percent.
46 percent of the respondents reported lowering pesticide costs, 60 percent improved their pest control, and 54 percent saw an improved water quality over the past five years.
Beef Marketing – For several years, marketing has been one of the major issues identified by beef advisory groups in Owen County and in the Northern Kentucky area. The Cooperative Extension Service, in cooperation with a local agricultural advisory council, developed a group sale for feeder calf producers, as a way to assist beef producers in receiving higher prices for their calves.
About 500 calves were consigned to the first sale, with roughly 40 percent coming from 13 Owen County producers. 51 percent of the Owen County calves in the sale actually made money, and of those that did, there was a total increase in income of $4,200, with 102 calves bring an average of $41.60 per calf. One producer indicated that he is now making changes in his breeding program, because his previous management caused him a loss of $400 to $600.
All producers that participated in the second year sale believed that the sale helped their bottom line. One producer reported that he personally netted an additional $1,200 income on the calves he had consigned.
Management First – There are going to be major changes in the structure of agriculture in the north-central Kentucky area over the next few years, due to the likely changes in the tobacco production system, as well as problems in marketing, rising costs and getting sufficient and qualified labor. To survive, farmers are going to need greater management skills.
The cooperative extension service organized an intensive training seminar to address this need. Twenty-two farmers from Owen, Carroll and Gallatin counties participated in the three-day workshop.
Over 20 percent indicated their intention to do more planning and to be more organized in their planning. One said he plans to more actively involve family members in planning his operation, and another plans to give areas of responsibilities to his sons, instead of him maintaining control over the entire operation. Over 80 percent of the participants developed a mission statement for their farm. A number of participants indicated that they were going to become more organized in some phase of their operation, particularly in the area of staffing and managing employees, with an eye on improving their employer-employee relationship. 20 percent of those attending plan to improve their record keeping systems.
Countians recognized for accomplishments in 1998
• Gerald and Joan Mefford, Don and Carolyn Towles, Bobby and Cathy Towles, C.W. and Grace Yancey – Farm Family Pride winners.
• Chris Hetterman, Josh Mears, Nicholas Miller, Andy Minch, Megan Minch, Danny O’Toole, David O’Toole, Jo Sparrow, Ryan Stephenson, Charlotte Vandt, Michael Vannarsdall – state fair champions.
• Linda Adkins – Kentucky and Southern Regional Family and Consumer Science Outstanding Paraprofessional Award.
• Abram Greene, Jon LaMont and Michael Newcomb – A.P.E.S. State Delegates.
• State Demonstration Champions, Katelyn Gaines and Chris Hetterman.
• Nita Benson – selected as a master volunteer in clothing construction leader for the northern Kentucky area.
• David Chappell – Kentucky Farm Bureau State Director, Phase II Tobacco Settlement Committee.
• Sheri Beth Greene – State Fashion Revue finalist.
• Chris Hetterman – American Heritage Delegate to Washington D.C.
• Joshua Mears – Top 4-H Exhibitor, Owen County Fair.
• Emily Mikel – State Fashion Revue semi-finalist and American Heritage Delegate to Washington D.C.
• Clinton Mills – Outstanding 4-H Boy.
• Owen County Extension Homemakers – “Scattering Kindness Award” (second place) for “A Teddy Bear to Love” Project at the Kentucky Extension Homemaker Annual Meeting.
• Carolyn and Delbert Keith – 4-H Pioneer Service Award participants.
• Martha Smith – Prepared Owen County’s quilt piece to the Kentucky Historical Society “Celebration Quilt” project.
• Chasity Smoot – Outstanding 4-H Girl.
• Joe Sparrow and Nicholas Miller – state livestock dairy judging participants.
• Samantha Fitzgerald, Matthew Mikel and Whitney Prather – state shooting sports competition.
In the years of 1999 and 2000 – Playing it safe: Farming is one of the county’s most hazardous occupations. The effects of the stress of depending on the uncertainties of the wealth and markets, the use of heavy equipment and tiring work can put farm families at risk of serious accidents or death. In addition, farmers are prime candidate for skin cancer because of the nature of their work.
The Extension Council, with the help of a grant from the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, hosted a spring Farm and Home Safety Day. The all-day event included exhibits, presentations, safety demonstrations and health screenings. Sun protection hats were distributed to many attendees. The program was highlighted with a visit by Ken Schulz, WHAS meteorologist and a mock farm rescue with the Saint Joseph Hospital Care Flight Helicopter. Over 250 people attended the event.
Hey Mom, I played in the creek at school today – Environmental awareness is becoming more important in today’s society. At the same time, more and more children are further removed from the land and the environment, and have no appreciation for the diversity and the complexity of the world around them.
The extension service, conservation district and the community learning center planned and conducted an intensive Environmental Day Camp for all 300 seventh-grade students in the county. A local farm was turned into a scientific, hands-on learning lab involving over 20 environmental educators. Stops included topics that focused on areas that were reinforced with follow-up programs back in the classroom, and learning hikes between each stop. Teachers indicated that this was one of the most organized and educational field trips ever provided for their students.
Extension homemakers is a family and community-based volunteer organization serving local needs with national and state expertise, in cooperation with the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service.
Programs and service projects of Kentucky’s 22,000 members continually change to address our demanding lifestyles and community needs.
For more than 50 years, extension homemakers in Owen County have been helping individuals connect to communities through education, service to community and personal growth.
Extension Homemakers sponsored the “Save Our Children Through Gang Violence Awareness” program which was taught by 30 senior citizens.
Eden Shale: The Farm, The Soil, The Region – The Eden Shale farm was purchased in the north-central Kentucky region nearly 50 years ago, and given to the University of Kentucky to conduct research and demonstrations that are unique to those farming Eden soils. The farm has been successful in providing some answers to questions over the years, in seeing how a run-down farm can be made productive. Specific examples include the development of the original no-till seeder, and more recently, the discovery of the cause of establishment failure of spring-seeded alfalfa, and how to combat it.
The Area Agriculture Advancement Council has made a priority in addressing the issue of making the farm even more responsive to farmers’ needs in the Eden Hills region.
One of the spinoffs of this emphasis was the Kentucky Forage and Grasslands Council’s annual field day being held at Eden Shale Farm. Stops focused on recently completed and ongoing research that affects forage and cattle production in the region. About 250 people from all across the state attended this event.
Creativity saves money – No one can live in our fast moving society without using personal skills to be creative in saving money for their family. Through the Heritage Skills Workshops, 238 individuals were able to use their talents in developing accessories for their home as well as economical gifts for friends and relatives.
During three workshops, 42 participants created home accessories for a savings of $7,140. Individuals continue to exhibit their talents in the county fair with 2,222 entries, for the most ever entered. Families are able to be creative and utilize their talents to save money.
Phase II Tobacco Payments – Tobacco quota owners and growers became eligible to receive direct payments to reimburse them for loss of income due to the National Tobacco Settlement. This past year was the first of twelve years of payments.
Extension, in cooperation with FSA, provided the training to help people fill out the required forms. Nine community meetings were held and much one-on-one efforts were provided by all agents and secretarial staff in helping growers and owners fill out their forms correctly. In all, over 1300 people were directly assisted in filling out their forms.
Phase I – Owen County has been given a golden opportunity to help local farm families create a new future for themselves.
Two years ago, the Kentucky General Assembly passed legislation providing a substantial amount of money to tobacco dependent counties to help them develop a new agricultural economy. Through this legislation, the county has received over $1 million to use for local agricultural development. This is being referred to as Phase I money. Through this legislation, a local board was set up to set general directions guidelines for how the money should be used.
After several community meetings, along with individual contact with numerous farm families from across the county, the local Phase I Board developed a comprehensive plan that will help guide the use of the money.
Since that comprehensive plan has been adopted, several cost-share programs have been funded. These include:
• Beef and dairy genetics improvement program
• Forage resource Improvement and utilization program
• Cattle handling facilities program
• Goat diversification program
• Agricultural diversification program
New Equipment for Farmers – In addition to cost-share programs, the local phase I board has purchased and made available to Owen County farmers some new equipment that can help to improve profitability, particularly for smaller farmers who can’t justify the cost of this equipment on their own. This includes a:
• No-till seeder
• Individual bale wrapper
• In-line bale wrapper
• Hillside lime spreader
In 2002, Leadership Owen County begins as a new and exciting program sponsored by the chamber of commerce, to identify and involve tomorrow’s leaders. Extension agents played an active role in planning the programs, specifically the leadership retreat and the Agricultural Day.
Leadership Owen County has given participants an insider’s view of Owen County. Through fast-paced monthly sessions, participants have explored issues with key decision makers, developed a network of contacts and enriched their knowledge of not only the problems and opportunities facing Owen County, but also of the diverse and unique attributes of the county. Twenty participants have spent a day each month enriching their knowledge on government, health care, education, agriculture and industry/utilities in Owen County.
Volunteers: A gift to the community – Lenora Kelly Olds was recognized at the Kentucky Extension Homemaker Annual Meeting for her 1,849 hours of volunteer service she had given during the past year. She was also recognized as the Volunteer of the Year of Extension Homemakers during the local reception for “Volunteers: A Gift to the Community.”
Determined to deal with diabetes – According to Healthy Kentuckians 2000, diabetes was the leading cause of death and disability; whereas, in 1997 it was the 7th leading cause of death in Kentucky. Due to increase of age, body weight and physical activity, the risk of diabetes has increased in the state.
Because of increased requests from clients diagnosed with diabetes, the cooperative extension service and the Three Rivers District Health Department in four rural counties planned and coordinated a four-session workshop, “Determined to Deal with Diabetes.” Approximately 70 men and women attended the workshop to learn more about diabetes and how to control it.
Celebrating 100 years of 4-H – this year marked the celebration of 100 years of 4-H. To commemorate this milestone, 4-H led an initiative to gather the best ideas and programs for youth development in the 21st Century.
In Owen County, youth and adults alike met together to address the question, “Within the next three to five years, what are the most important actions we can take to create the future we want for youth in the community?”
At the conclusion of the county conversation, the consensus of the group was that there was a definite need for youth leadership opportunities so that youth could become involved in community service and leadership roles. There was also a need for a youth center with organized activities for all youth.
Youth and community leaders were urged to work together to meet these needs.
Owen County Extension Council state winner – this is the second consecutive year that the Owen County Extension Council was recognized for their outstanding program with Spring Extension Day; this time, “Taste of Owen County.” The leaders were recognized during the State Extension Council meeting in which they received the Randall Barnett Award and a check for $500. Congratulations to the extension council members.
Spring Extension Day has become an annual event that is planned, organized and implemented by leadership of the Owen County Extension Council. This year’s theme “Celebrating the Past, Embracing the Future” illustrating clothing in the 20th Century, quilts, toys, foods, kitchen equipment, farm tools, business equipment, etc. were on display.
In 2003, Cathy Jansen became our newest 4-H youth development agent.
The CPH Cattle Sale was introduced as a method of marketing calves that can considerably increase their value is through the use of a certified preconditioned for health program. Specific management practices mean that preconditioned calves are healthier and more valuable to a buyer. Last winter, over 800 calves from five counties were sold through a local CPH sale. An average premium of $54 received per head led to $45,200 of additional income to farmers who participated. This sale requires that producers keep and feed calves for 45 days past weaning, and the additional net value from the added weight gain from these calves was $25,300, making a total of $70,500 income received from producers making the management changes and participating in the sale.
Phase I Cost-Share Programs – Two years ago, the Kentucky General Assembly decided to put half of the money that the state expects to receive over the next 25 years from the Tobacco Master Settlement Program (Commonly referred to as phase I money) into a program to develop local farming infrastructure to help improve long-term agricultural profitability. Owen County has received nearly $1.5 million of this money, and all of it has been committed to various cost-share type programs across the country. While many projects are still underway; to date, over $500,000 has been distributed to Owen County farmers. This means that well over a million dollars of improvements have been made on local farms in the areas of bull genetics, cattle handling facilities, rotational fencing and water systems, as well as the development and expansion of numerous goat, sheep, dairy, horse boarding, horticultural and aquacultural enterprises.
Owen County Farm and Craft Market – The first Leadership Owen County graduating class decided to assist local farmers and craftsman in starting a community farm and craft market. The Owen County Cooperative Extension Service assisted with the formation of this market, with agents serving as chairs of the vendor and publicity sub-committees. The market received grants from the Phase I Board and the Department of Agriculture totaling over $13,000.
The farmers market was one of the more successful first year markets in the state, based on comments from other market managers and department of agriculture personnel.
Twenty-three vendors from Owen County and surrounding counties participated in the market. After the market closed, a survey was made of all vendors regarding their sales. The total gross receipts from fifteen of these vendors were over $20,700 for the marketing season. The six “anchor” vendors that set up every week reported average gross receipts of $2,487 for the season, with one farm family selling over $3,600 worth of farm produce.
In 2004, the Master Volunteer Programs were a success. The Master Food and Clothing Volunteer programs allow people with these interests to take their expertise to a higher level while developing new avenues for helping in the community.
The Master Volunteer in Clothing Program has eight volunteer leaders in the Northern Kentucky area which have given 3300 hours of their time for a contribution of $57,240 volunteer wages.
The Master Volunteer in Foods Program has just started this spring with 14 participants. Kentucky’s new Master Food Program is a 7-week course learning about food safety, food science, food preparation and food preservation.
Networking of local agencies and organizations becomes vital. Nearly 37 percent of families in Owen County have incomes below $25,000 and 15 percent of the children under age 18 live in poverty. Collaboration with agencies, businesses and church groups have allowed for more effective explanation of services and decreasing expenses for local families.
Due to the networking of agencies in our community, the following results have occurred:
• 97 families (261 children) received assistance through the Christmas Project 2003.
• Over 200 teddy bears have been made by homemakers and given to children emergency room patients.
• Relay for Life raised over $70,000 in the county.
• An Administrative Professional Day recognition program was held for 60 professionals to help increase employee self-esteem.
• A six-week Spanish class was implemented for 45 farmers, business owners and medical personnel for better communication with our local Hispanics.
Phase I made improvements to Owen County agriculture. The local Agriculture Development Board has had the responsibility of spending nearly 2 million of Phase I money allocated to Owen County. Through this cost-share program, over the last three years, about 130 famers have purchased higher quality bulls, 150 have installed or improved cattle handling facilities, about 75 are building new hay barns, 75 are installing line fences and over 50 livestock producers have installed or improved cross-fences and watering systems. All of this has enabled livestock producers to greatly improve the long-term profit potentials of their farm.
Twenty-two farmers have made use of the funds by starting or expanding a non-traditional enterprise, ranging from greenhouse tomatoes to aquaculture. In addition, 14 farmers have started or expanded goat operations.
The county received an $11,000 grant for the farmers market, which drew about $21,000 in revenue for local vendors in the first year.
The board invested in a lime spreader, a no-till seeder and shared-use bale wrappers. The Owen County Cooperative Extension Service worked with the local Phase I Board, the county Farm Bureau and one of the local farm supply dealers to purchase three bale wrappers for county farmers to use to harvest high-moisture hay, and provided educational efforts on how to use the equipment. As a result of these efforts, within the first year, 30 farmers had used the equipment to make balage out of 4900 round bales of hay, with two-thirds being good legume hay. Nearly all farmers using the equipment have been very pleased with the quality of the forage this method of storage provides, and they have really liked how their livestock have performed with the balage. Based on some economic projections as to the net return of baled halage, this has resulted in an increased value of over $42,000 for these farmers, due to increased protein and energy, and savings in storage and feeding losses. There will be an increase in the productivity of the animals due to higher quality feed, as well as an additional reduction in costs due to savings on supplemental feed needed.