In a time when energy conservation is on many Americans’ minds as a way to be environmentally responsible and simply save money, University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension agents are reaching out to their communities to help. More than 50 agents have participated in training for the Energy Efficiency Awareness and Action Program. Now program organizers are recognizing some of the individuals who went the extra mile and completed or participated in an Energy Awareness Challenge.
“Kentucky is one of three states to receive a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy that makes use of our great Cooperative Extension network to pass on vital information to Kentuckians,” said Beverly Miller, extension associate in the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment’s Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering. “We’ve been working with agents across the state to try and reach the residential and commercial clients in their communities.”
For the challenge, 29 counties participated and 28 extension agents and staff completed 38 challenge activities. Miller and her colleagues will present 36 certificates in a ceremony Sept. 11.
“To meet the challenge, agents had to complete personal home energy assessments, benchmark their county office and conduct at least one of three programs throughout the year,” Miller said. “The programs they had to choose from addressed home energy efficiency, commercial energy efficiency and 4-H youth engagement.”
Christin Herbst, the agriculture and natural resources extension agent in Carroll County, completed the challenge.
“I’ve worked on doing my own energy assessment, and we’ve benchmarked the office,” she said. “We presented the 4-H program, conducted the Living Better through Home Energy Management program at the Carroll County Extension office for homeowners, and I also presented Controlling Overhead through Business Energy Management to the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce.”
In Boone County, family and consumer sciences extension agent Diane Mason has also completed the challenge.
“We started with a community education seminar last fall,” she said. “I do think those who attended learned about the computer program that allows them to enter their energy information and track it over time. We have entered information for our office buildings into the online system to benchmark them. We recently added insulation to one of our buildings and will be looking to see what kind of energy savings we realize as a result of that improvement in the building.”
Jeffrey Young is the Kentucky Cooperative Extension District 3 director. Miller is recognizing him for widespread participation in his district.
“Jeff’s program support is very evident, based on the participation level of his district, and he was an early program participant,” Miller said. “He was the first district director to invite me to share the programs with his counties. Eleven of the 13 District 3 Extension offices were benchmarked. Those 11 office benchmarks yielded three offices that may be eligible for ENERGY STAR certification. For this, we recognize and thank him for his support and look forward to further program participation in this fiscal year.”
Miller said that although attending training was not part of the challenge, 50 extension personnel attended training from September 2012 through May.
“We hope these people will continue to use our program materials and share them with their clientele,” she said. “Evaluations from presentations indicate that the public gained new knowledge as a result of the program. Some of the comments we got from the program evaluation were that everyone needs the information, and that as a result of the program, some changed their overall thinking about energy. That is encouraging to us.”
Miller said she will offer monthly training sessions for all three programs, Living Better through Home Energy Management, Control Overhead through Building Energy Management and Home Energy Detectives for extension agents, through June 2014.
Currently, the Living Better through Home Energy Management program is a featured Kentucky Extension Homemaker Association program, and Home Energy Detectives is a Kentucky 4-H Core Curriculum program.
Beverly Miller, 859-257-3000, ext. 206