Jimmy Henning will step down as associate dean for extension and director of the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service on Feb. 15 to return to the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment’s faculty as an extension forage specialist. Henning has led the extension service since 2007.
“I have wanted to return to the field for some time,” Henning said. “With the renewed emphasis on forage programs as part of the Grain and Forage Center of Excellence and the continued need for the same in Eastern Kentucky, the timing just seems right.”
“About a year ago, Jimmy told me he would like to resume working directly with forage and livestock producers,” said Nancy Cox, dean of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. “He has provided great leadership for extension for the past 10 years. I understand his desire to return to the field and know that he will bring great passion to his new role as he did while leading extension.”
The search for a new leader will begin after a review of the Cooperative Extension Service is complete later this spring.
In the interim, Gary Palmer, UK assistant extension director for agriculture and natural resources, will oversee operations and specialists and agents working in family and consumer sciences, community and economic development, agriculture and natural resources and 4-H youth development.
"We are very fortunate to have Gary Palmer serve in this interim role,” Cox said. “Gary has served extension in an exemplary manner and will provide stability as well as progressive ideas for continuing that service."
As extension director, Henning emphasized local advisory councils, strong county programs and the value of a close connection between counties and campus. He led a team which improved infrastructure at 4-H camps, increased the security of county programs funding and improved campus/county communication and collaboration in programming.
Henning and his team brought a greater emphasis to diversity and inclusion in staffing and programs and brokered a new level of partnership with Kentucky State University. This greater collaboration between UK Cooperative Extension and KSU will produce stronger county programs with greater breadth. He also led the process of giving counties a greater voice in the selection process for agents.
Henning, a 27-year veteran of the Cooperative Extension Service, has also represented the college and the university in national roles, including chair of the national level Extension Committee on Organization and Policy. Henning was selected by his peers to receive the Southern Region Excellence in Extension Leadership award in 2015.
Laura Skillman, 859-323-4761