July 27, 2011

Calloway County Extension Homemaker Helen Campbell loves to teach quilting. That’s why for the past two years she’s volunteered to help some of Kentucky’s brightest high school students learn how to quilt during the Governor’s Scholar Program at Murray State University.

“It’s just a joy to see someone grasp a theory and watch their eyes dance,” she said.

The University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service began partnering with the Governor’s Scholar Program in 2010, when Melissa Travis, a faculty member with the program, approached La Dawn Hale, Calloway County’s family and consumer sciences extension agent, about helping with a class about Kentucky crafts.

The Governor’s Scholars Program strives to enhance Kentucky’s next generation of civic and economic leaders by providing high school students with educational and personal growth experiences at one of three Kentucky universities during the summer before their senior year. Scholars take classes in general studies and a focus area of their choosing.

In 2010, Travis’ students completed several projects, including two baby quilts that were sent to a pregnancy crisis center in Clay County, where Travis teaches math at the high school. Campbell, along with fellow Extension Homemaker Kitty Davis, volunteered to help the students complete these projects.

“It’s extremely rewarding and enlightening to work with these students,” Davis said. “They are so interested in the project, and they listen and learn so well.”

This year, Travis wanted her class, which is part of the program’s general studies curriculum, to focus on service as a component of leadership. Governor’s Scholars in her class made bandanas and a quilt for the Center for Courageous Kids in Scottsville and two baby quilts to send to one of the state’s pregnancy crisis centers.

“One of the reasons I applied for the Governor’s Scholars Program was because of how different everything was,” said Alex Petros, a student at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in Lexington. “I’ve never sewed before, but I think getting the vocational training is helpful, and it’s for a really good cause.”

Travis and the students traveled to American Legion Post 73 in Murray, which allows Extension personnel to store sewing supplies and host classes. These supplies were donated by several community organizations, including the Quilt Lovers of Murray, for the purpose of teaching young people how to sew. The Extension Homemakers worked alongside Travis and the Governor’s Scholars as they completed their projects, offering advice on measuring, sewing, backing and other aspects of quilt construction.

“The Homemakers are a tremendous help when you get down to the nitty gritty stuff,” Travis said.

The students each selected the fabric for their bandanas. Pieces leftover from the bandanas were used to make the quilt for the Center for Courageous Kids.

“It added a personal touch,” said Corrie van Gessel, a Governor’s Scholar and student at Tates Creek High School in Lexington. “It’s nice that your fabric is in the quilt and you get to give away what you chose.”

Jo Farley, a retired math teacher, Calloway County Extension Homemaker and Master Volunteer in Clothing Construction, helped with the project.

“The Governor’s Scholars is a wonderful program, and the students were really into this project,” she said.

The students traveled to the Center for Courageous Kids, where they toured the center and presented their quilt.