September 19, 2008

When asked to name all the things that the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service has to offer, many people will come up short. Extension professionals in western Kentucky are hoping to correct that with Extension Extravaganza.

If you thought you knew extension, think again, said Karen Ramage, extension district director based in Princeton. She was referring to the wide range of programs and services extension provides.

"People know a lot about some of our traditional programs, but not necessarily our nontraditional programs," she said.

For that reason, extension agents in 17 western Kentucky counties will host the premiere Extension Extravaganza, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 22 at West Kentucky 4-H Camp in Dawson Springs. The event will showcase nearly 25 different extension programs and, in the process, introduce what Ramage calls ‘the new extension' to both potential clients and old friends of the service.

The day will include activities, demonstrations and exhibits that include a challenge course where individuals and groups develop team building skills, tours of the camp led by Master Gardeners who will point out interesting plants and trees and tours of the new 4-H horse facility, the only such facility in the state. A Kentucky State University aquaculture specialist will demonstrate water quality testing and pond and lake management at the camp's lake.

Sessions also include information on Horse College and the Master Cattleman and Master Logger courses; the new 4-H Science, Engineering and Technology program; extension disaster education programs such as Extension Disaster and Emergency Network (EDEN) and Community Emergency Response Team (CERT); and eXtension, an interactive web-based system that delivers a wellspring of useful information from the country's land grant universities.

Ramage said there will also be information about the many opportunities available for people who want to become extension volunteers, such as Master Gardeners, Master Clothing Volunteers and Master Food Volunteers.

Today's extension programming goes far beyond the farm; though animal science still is one of the six major areas in the core curriculum development for young people.  The Cooperative Extension Service touches many aspects of rural and urban life for young and old, reaching from the home to the workplace to the community. Ramage hopes that those who attend Extension Extravaganza will come away with a greater appreciation of all the work extension does in the local community and in the state.

"We decided to share some of the great things that we are doing in extension," she said.

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