November 1, 2019
Lexington, Ky.

The University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service took home several national awards at the annual meeting of Epsilon Sigma Phi, The Extension Professionals’ Association in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Ann Porter, a lifelong extension supporter and volunteer from Mason County, received the organization’s 2019 Friend of Extension-Volunteer/Lay Leader Award.

“Our volunteers are the backbone of the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service,” said Laura Stephenson, UK associate dean for extension. “It is truly an honor that the dedication and service that Mrs. Porter gives to Kentucky Extension has been applauded at the national level.”

Porter has a long history with Cooperative Extension that began when she joined 4-H as a young person. Over the years, the retired family and consumer sciences educator has volunteered countless hours to local, area and state extension efforts. She is known throughout the organization for her innovative leadership abilities, impactful projects and encouraging attitude. Porter currently serves as chair of the Kentucky State Extension Council. In this role, she has been integrally involved in the recent statewide community assessment process, which will help county extension agents develop programming to meet the needs of their local communities.

“She not only leads local efforts, but many extension professionals look to her as a mentor,” said Nellie Buchanan, Morgan County extension agent for family and consumer sciences education and Porter’s nominator.

 Porter is a longtime member of the Kentucky Extension Homemakers Association and currently serves as president of the Mason County and Licking River Area Extension Homemakers. She is a past recipient of the National 4-H Alumni Award.

In Mason County, she serves on the local 4-H, family and consumer sciences and county extension councils. Porter started the Open the Door to Kindness project in Mason County to encourage people to be kind to one another and practice small acts of kindness. The project has now expanded throughout the Licking River Area. Since she became president of the Mason County Extension Homemakers, the organization has raised money and awarded more than 30, $500 scholarships to help the families of local Extension Homemakers afford college.“Mrs. Porter is an asset to the UK Cooperative Extension Service system,” said Natasha Lucas, UK extension district director. “We are grateful for the countless hours of dedicated leadership and contributions she has made to her community and state on behalf of our organization.”

Jennifer Bridge, left, Meade County family and consumer sciences extension agent, accepts the Rita T. Wood grant on behalf of UK extension.

The Kentucky chapter of Epsilon Sigma Phi received the national organization’s first Rita T. Wood Grant for leadership development and chapter growth for its ESP LEADS program.“In Kentucky, our extension professionals are leaders and innovators,” Stephenson said. “Being recognized as the first recipients of the Rita T. Wood grant is a tribute to the work ethic and commitment that we foster across our system.”

The 18-month program allows extension professionals to fine-tune their leadership skills so they can be more effective community leaders.

“This program will equip extension professionals with the skills they need to positively impact their communities,” said Jennifer Bridge, Meade County family and consumer sciences extension agent and chair of the ESP LEADS committee. “While this is just the first year of the program, we are already being looked at as a national model for growth and development of extension personnel.”

The UK chapter received the organization’s Chapter of Merit, Platinum Award. The award recognizes chapters that actively forward the causes of the Cooperative Extension Service, have an active membership and provide exceptional professional development for its members.


Mindy McCulley, 859-218-1544