The day before the tragic storm in Kentucky, we were working with Extension agents at a statewide conference in Lexington. Extension programs are a division of land grant universities and their goal is to educate entire communities. These folks are charged with integrating the research of an institution into the day to day lives of the state’s residents.

Extension agents offer nutrition programs in rural communities. They develop best practices for farmers looking to maximize yields and learn sustainable processes. They help navigate small business loans. They lead 4-H programs. They build capacity around community conversations about race. They connect people to resources for mental health and substance abuse recovery. They’ll teach you how to raise bees and harvest honey or can spicy pickled green beans if that’s what you want to do.

I’ve done a lot of work with Extension offices across the country and maybe the thing I’ve seen them do best is listen. To individuals. To communities. To ask good questions and identify the problems and challenges of a community and then set out to address and resolve them.

For our studio session, we asked, “When have you made the greatest impact or felt the most energized in your role as an Extension agent?”

You’ll see the range of work and engagement in the stories below. Some of the skills are taught. Others are learned from years in the field working with people. When it comes to bridging divides and building community, I am convinced that there is no act too small to make a difference and there is no need too great to be solved.

I know some of these folks are hard at work helping the communities respond and recover from the storms. Long after the headlines have faded, these people will still be there, doing what needs to be done.

If you’d like to help, these are a few of the places that my friends in Kentucky Extension recommend.

Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund

American Red Cross Western Kentucky Chapter

Kentucky Agriculture Relief Fund  

The 4-H Foundation has the 4-H'ers Helping 4-Hers Fund to aid 4-Hers and their
families in times of disasters.   

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