December 5, 2001 | By: Haven Miller

An organization sponsored by the state's Cooperative Extension Service is providing a support system for minority county agents and other Extension professionals.

The Kentucky Diversity Network is bringing together ethnic minority Extension professionals from both the University of Kentucky and Kentucky State University. Its goals include promoting inclusiveness and helping agents meet the needs of both traditional and non-traditional clients.

"This network is especially important for the minority agents," said Mike Caldwell, Nelson County 4-H/youth development agent. "We have different types of opportunities and different types of issues that we can discuss regarding our professional roles, and our roles in the community."

The Network was formed in 1996. Its purpose is to support Extension staff of all ethnic minority backgrounds, and its main goal is addressing the specific needs of multi-ethnic Extension professionals. The Network also seeks to improve recruitment and retention of minorities in Extension.

"Many of the agents are from out of state and don't have the networks ready at-hand, and it helps to make friends. And this really helps in terms of retention in the long run," said Myrna Herron, Monroe County Extension agent for family and consumer science.

With Kentucky's minority population increasing, members of the KDN believe that it's more important than ever to address the needs of minority groups through strengthened support of Extension programs and activities.

"We want the Kentucky Diversity Network to be a resource, not just for agents but other people, so that if other ethnic groups have concerns and want to know how to meet under-served audiences then the Network can be that type of resource," said Zelia Holloway, KDN coordinator and minority recruitment director for the UK College of Agriculture.

In addition to meeting professional goals, the Network also promotes educational, cultural, and social goals through programs and workshops.


Zelia Holloway, 859-257-9241