September 5, 1998 | By: Ellen Brightwell

The University of Kentucky College of Agriculture has won a national award for outstanding public issues educational programs offered through its Kentucky Natural Resources Leadership Institute (KNRLI).

The Outstanding Public Issues Education Program Award recognizes innovative Extension education programs that demonstrate excellence in scholarship and provide important public service. This award, given by the Farm Foundation and National Public Policy Education Committee, recognizes a collaborative effort between the KNRLI and the North Carolina Natural Resources Leadership Institute at North Carolina State University.

"Kentucky's institute provides training, experiences and information to people involved in various phases of natural resources to help them resolve conflicts, communicate better, and become involved more effectively in policymaking processes," said Don Graves, institute co-director and interim chair of the UK Department of Forestry.

The 18-month institute brings together people with diverse interests and perspectives on natural resources, according to Jennifer Thompson, KNRLI program manager. Participants receive training on how to solve natural resources issues and conflicts. They take field trips and attend meetings to broaden their understanding of key natural resources issues in Kentucky and visit state and federal governmental centers to learn more about natural resources policymaking and meet people involved in these processes.

"A key component is that participants design and carry out a natural resources issue project using the knowledge and skills they gained in the institute," she added. "Projects have brought together potential buyers and sellers of land for preservation; built farmer-consumer relationships to establish local markets for local products, and initiated a summit where hunters, anglers and conservation-preservation groups met to discuss working together to benefit wildlife. Other projects have involved establishing a secondary wood industry in a county and a statewide initiative advocating reforestation of post-mined land."

The institute has an advisory board of natural resources professionals and volunteers from throughout Kentucky. The KNRLI Task Force consists of Extension specialists and administrators from the College of Agriculture.

"We are recruiting participants with diverse backgrounds and viewpoints on natural resources issues for the institute that begins in January, 1999," added Craig Infanger, institute co-director and Extension public policy specialist. "Previous participants have included state regulators, federal agency employees, farmers, environmental activists and educators, industry employees and Extension agents. The institute can offer a limited amount of financial support for people to attend."

For more information on the institute or an application form, write Jennifer Thompson, 213-A Thomas Poe Cooper Building, Lexington, KY 40546-0073, call (606) 257-2943, or send e-mail to


Writer: Ellen Brightwell
(606) 257-1376

Sources: Don Graves
(606) 257-7596

Jennifer Thompson
(606) 257-2943

Craig Infanger
(606) 257-7274