2003 the Magazine
Department Helps Kentuckians Turn Change into Progress
Plant Pathologist Takes on Tall Fescues Endophyte .....6
a Walk on the Wild Side .....10
Solving the Medical Mystery of MRLS ..... 14
Cooperative Extension Service Annual Report ..... 18
Department Helps Kentuckians Turn Change into Progress
When the Department
of Community and Leadership Development was created in July of
last year, it marked a strengthened emphasis on individuals, families,
and communities that are abundantly evident throughout the commonwealth.
Its aim is to help Kentuckians take change and turn it into progress.
new department is comprised of bits and pieces of other
departments and units. Rural sociologists, whose appointments
had been straddling both the College of Agriculture and the College
of Arts and Sciences, became fully associated with the College
of Agriculture. (The rural sociology faculty still participate
in the doctoral program associated with the Department of Sociology.)
The agricultural education teaching faculty, housed for the past
10 years in the Department of Agricultural Economics, became part
of the new department. The agricultural communications teaching
faculty also joined the new department, as did two faculty members
responsible for development and evaluation of the Extension program.
new 18-faculty member department is not just a reconfiguration
of faculty members from disparate places. Rather, this new department's
faculty bring to bear the collective talents of faculty members
who can help Kentuckians in their quest for progress," said
Gary Hansen, chair of the new department.
talents were amazingly easy to organize into a new department,
as every faculty member saw the advantages of the new structure.
The faculty of the new department and college leaders agreed remarkably
on the need for such a department and worked diligently to accomplish
the act of creating the Department of Community and Leadership
Development began prior to the appointment of Lee Todd as president
of the University of Kentucky, it nonetheless supports to a "T"
his vision of the University of Kentucky becoming a resource for
President Todd often speaks of committing the University to a
higher purpose, chiseling away at what he calls the Kentucky Uglieslow
literacy, poor health, and low incomesand the constellation
of factors that give rise to them.
seemingly long-standing-but-still-unresolved issues coupled with
the complex changes imposed upon Kentucky during the last decade,
this new department has its work cut out for it.
is resolute as well as optimistic.
though the effects of these old issues and recent social, demographic,
and economic changes are quite profound in about every sphere
of Kentucky life, we shouldn't believe they must determine our
fixed destiny. We can do something about them if we have the skills
and desire to do so. We need to remember that change happens to
all of us all the time, but progress happens only when we take
change and turn it into what we want," Hansen said.
Kentucky needs skilled leaders with the ability to assess their
communities' situations and to make them better places to live.
This department can address those needs with a variety of its
programs, Hansen said. Programs now in place offer communities
ways to deal with the legacies of the past and the challenges
of the future.
visioning program led by Lori Garkovich, Ron Hustedde, and Julie
Zimmerman is helping communities assess what's happening to them
and what they can do to make their community a better place.
I go out to a community, the fact that I've been invited means
that community leaders see a need to think through their destiny
and have a desire to make plans to shape it," Garkovich said.
What happens during the visioning workshop is little short of
amazing. Just look what happened in Carter County, when local
citizens "visioned" their community of the future.
In early 2000,
the community leaders met for a day-long session with Garkovich.
By the end of the day, the leaders had a laundry list of what
they believed they needed to do to make the county a better place
met again 15 months later to share a progress report. The accomplishments
included expanding emergency care for citizens, mapping water
line expansion for five water districts, and developing a long-range
plan for road resurfacing.
While community development is a broad focus of the new department's
work, its research in other areas promises huge dividends.
members are partnering with a number of other groups in Kentucky,
including the Tracy Farmer Center for the Environment, the Martin
School of Public Policy and Administration, the Kentucky Association
of County Officials, the Kentucky Cabinet for Families and Children,
and the Appalachian Center, among others.
research program investigates the intersection between agriculture
and biotechnology, especially how people think about the use of
biotechnology for food and medicine.
have differing sentiments about biotechnology based on whether
the science is used for food or medicine, Tanaka's social science
research helps scientists in agriculture and medicine understand
the public's reaction to their research and findings.
the future of biotechnologyespecially as new genetically
engineered products move from the laboratory bench to the marketplacewill
be determined by whether people accept the premises of the research.
If they are squeamish, for example, about genetically modified
animals but not plants, researchers may decide to develop pharmaceuticals
around the plant model," she said.
research about how welfare reform is affecting Kentucky families
provides vital knowledge to the state's leaders as they seek to
implement policies that enhance the lives of those affected by
welfare reform. And colleague Roz Harris' work on the impact of
poverty on children and youth has been instrumental to policy
makers in enacting programs to help meet the food needs of young
people whose families are below the poverty threshold.
sound hokey, but it's true nonetheless. This department is an
exciting place to be right now. We are energized by the possibilities
for research, teaching, and outreach and by the new working relationships
we are creating that will give us the opportunity to help all
Kentuckians, their families, and their communities progress in
the years ahead," Hansen said.
We are energized by the possibilities for research, teaching,
and outreach and by the new working relationships we are creating
that will give us the opportunity to help all Kentuckians.
It's a mouthful of a program name, but it opens a world of opportunities
for its graduates. The major is called the B.S. degree in agricultural
education, communications, and public service and leadership.
Students enrolled in the majorand currently there are 125
students pursuing the degreecan concentrate on one of the
- The agricultural
education option, housed for many years in the College of Education
and then in the Department of Agricultural Economics, trains
students to become vocational and technical high school teachers.
Many of the students, however, use the training to pursue non-school
teaching careers, such as those in agribusiness and farming.
Currently 50 undergraduate students are enrolled in the agricultural
education program, and another 50 graduate students are working
toward an M.S. degree.
- The agricultural
communications option currently has 55 undergraduate students
enrolled. Graduates of the program enter careers in agricultural
writing, public relations, and marketing, although many students
also find the course work helpful in graduate and professional
- The 20-plus
students majoring in the public service and leadership option
are being prepared for careers in government and non-profit
organizations, although, as with the other two options, students
often use their degree to pursue other careers.
Plant Pathologist Takes on Tall Fescues Endophyte - top
by Randy Weckman
plant pathologist Chris Schardl about tall fescue grass unless
you've brought your lunch along and maybe dinner, too. Schardl
is a world-renowned expert on tall fescue and its symbiotic friend,
an endophyte fungus that lives inside the plant between the plant
focuses on the relationship between the fungus and the grass.
The plant nurtures and gives sustenance to the fungus and, in
return, the endophyte helps the plant keep insects at bay, survive
drought, and tolerate grazing by livestock. Schardl plans to tinker
ever so slightly with the cozy relationship between the two to
make the tall fescue-endophyte system better for livestock.
is a popular forage grass, with millions upon millions of acres
of it growing from Wisconsin to Florida and from the East Coast
to Kansas and beyond. Because nearly all of these millions of
acres of fescue are infected with a fungal endophyte (which is
a word made up from Greek, meaning within the plant), the grass
has tremendous advantages over other common grazing grasses. But
it also holds a significant disadvantage for livestock. The endophyte,
with the scientific name of Neotyphodium coenophialum, can be
responsible for poor weight gain, hormonal imbalances that lead
to reduced fertility and lactation, birthing problems, and in
extreme conditions, gangrene of the animals' limbs. Overall, it
is estimated that tall fescue toxicosis may cost the livestock
industry roughly $1 billion annually.
tit-for-tat relationship between the two, the endophyte helps
in a variety of ways, including drought tolerance, shoot growth,
tillering, seed production, seed germination, phosphorus uptake,
and resistance to nematodes and insects alike," Schardl said.
relationship is many thousands of years old. In fact, Schardl's
group discovered that N. coenophialum shares a relationship with
other Neotyphodium species (also called Epichloe species) in fescues
and ryegrasses that are all over Europe and northern Africa, but
the tall fescue endophyte has a uniquely complex origin as a hybrid
of three other endophytes.
As a hybrid,
the tall fescue endophyte brings together many beneficial traits
that ancestral endophytes evolved as symbionts of ancient grass
species. But like mules, which are the hybrid product of horses
and burros, the tall fescue endophyte cannot reproduce sexually.
Reproduction of the endophyte depends on its ability to extend
microscopic runners into each developing seed of the tall fescue
plant. When that seed germinates, the endophyte proliferates throughout
the new plant's tissues.
the Good, Removing the Bad
Schardl's research, funded by both the U.S. Department of Agriculture
and the National Science Foundation, is a two-pronged project
exactly how the fungus in fescue helps the plant.
the genetics of the fungus to keep the good qualities while
removing its ability to cause fescue toxicosis.
pathologist believes that much has been accomplished toward these
aims. Schardl's group, along with other researchers at UK and
elsewhere, has shown how the endophyte starts the process that
leads to toxicosis in grazing animals. The fungus produces three
types of alkaloids. Of these, ergot alkaloid in the form of ergovaline
is the most likely culprit in toxicosis in grazing animals.
also produces loline alkaloid and peramine alkaloid, both of which
help protect the fescue plant from insects and drought. (Loline
alkaloid is a natural insecticide. Peramine is rather nasty tasting
to insects, which helps the plant ward off invasion from hungry
insects.) Schardl also wants to see if loline alkaloid helps tall
fescue survive drought. Apparently neither loline alkaloid nor
peramine alkaloid is poisonous to grazing animals.
has identified specific genes that control the production of the
three types of alkaloids. Each is triggered by a different set
How did he
laboratory brings to bear the most current techniques in biochemistry
and molecular biology and the classical techniques of Gregor Mendel
and Thomas Hunt Morgan to find the alkaloid production genes.
For example, in a "reverse genetics" approach, the researchers
find out what chemical reactions are responsible for each step
in the complex pathway the endophyte uses to manufacture each
alkaloid. Then they find and analyze the biochemical catalysts
(enzymes) for each of those steps. Finally, they use knowledge
of the enzyme structure to find the genes that code for them.
(Genes are really sequences of DNA that come together in a particular
linear order to control the development of every cell in any living
approach uses principles of evolution, earning for Schardl a worldwide
reputation as an expert in the evolution of symbionts. Schardl
started his work in the evolution of symbionts by studying the
origins of Neotyphodium species that are symbiotic with wild grasses,
which are related to tall fescue. In doing so, he has discovered
scores of new Neotyphodium species, some of which produce the
same alkaloids as the tall fescue endophyte and some that don't.
the DNA sequences from different Neotyphodium species in what
amounts to a sophisticated process of elimination, his group confirmed
the identity of genes responsible for the production of ergovaline,
the alkaloid that is toxic to animals. This same approach helped
them find other genes that apparently direct the endophyte to
make loline and peramine alkaloids, which help protect the plant
from insects and drought.
Now that they've found the genes they were looking for, Schardl's
group plans to insert foreign DNA (the building blocks of genes)
in the middle of the gene that controls the production of ergovaline.
It is hoped the result will be that the gene will not be able
to express itself because of interferences from foreign DNA. This
would stop the endophyte from producing the ergovaline toxin.
Genes that control the other two alkaloidsthe ones that
help protect the plant from insects and droughtwould be
about his work with confidence but without arrogance, as if what
he's already done is merely applying known techniques to the problem
described by other scientists. He is equally confident that he
will be able to disengage the specific gene in the endophyte that
causes fescue toxicosis while keeping the protective qualities
of the endophytic fungus intact.
students in his laboratory have disengaged this gene in an endophyte
of ryegrass (a first cousin to fescue) and have shown that the
modified endophyte was still a capable symbiont.
all the techniques in place and found the key genes, Schardl's
laboratory is now engineering out the ergot alkaloid gene in the
tall fescue endophyte. But why was time spent on a ryegrass endophyte,
if plans really were to apply the techniques to tall fescue?
is that the tall fescue endophyte, being a complex hybridsort
of like a mulerequires more than double the time and effort
needed to accomplish this task.
necessary to show the U.S. Department of Agriculture that we knew
how to do this so they would fund our work on tall fescue, which
will cost more time and money than ryegrass," Schardl said.
system is being used to determine specifically the costs, benefits,
and risks of this kind of engineered product. Meanwhile, Schardl's
students are developing and testing more sophisticated approaches
to modify the tall fescue endophyte.
new approach is intended to remove the gene we want to remove
yet have no foreign gene in its place," Schardl said. "Although
this may sound simpleand maybe someday it will beit
actually requires us to make some additional technological advances
in fungal molecular biology," Schardl said.
payback could be enormous. If we can eliminate the endophyte's
ability to manufacture ergovaline, we may greatly improve the
economics of pasturing livestock in Kentucky and much of the eastern
U.S.," he said.
Stowaway Grass and Fescue War - top
Tall fescue grows throughout the South as the premier grazing
grass. The most common cultivarwhich became known later
as Kentucky 31was discovered in Menifee County, Kentucky,
by University of Kentucky agronomist E.N. Fergus in the fall of
1931, a year noted for a severe drought. Fergus, in Frenchburg
that day judging a local sorghum syrup contest, heard from the
clerk of the circuit court about an amazing grass growing locally.
Intrigued, Fergus asked to see the grass growing on W.M. Suiter's
farm. Fergus later admitted that he didn't recognize the species.
To his astonishment, the grass was lush, green, and quite vigorous.
Fergus noted that on that hillside where the grass was growing
there was virtually no erosion. He asked for seed, which he brought
back to Lexington. The grass performed well in research trials
and was officially named Kentucky 31. Because of these characteristics,
Kentucky 31 was planted throughout the South and Midwest to provide
grazing pasture and control erosion on millions of acres.
was so aggressive and hardy that it took over large regions wherever
it was planted. But soon, farmers noticed that livestock grazing
it sometimes didn't perform well, especially in hot weather, and
they raised questions about it. As a result, Kentucky 31 became
quite controversial within the College of Agriculture's agronomy
department, especially between two professors. One professor continued
to preach the blessings of the grass, while the other cursed it.
Fergus reported many years after his retirement that he was able
to stay out of the fray, but opined that avoiding the conflict
was difficult. Sometimes referred to as the Fescue War, the duel
over Kentucky 31, which was quite acrimonious and public, continued
from the late 1940s until the summer of 1952, when both antagonists
left the University of Kentucky. Subsequent to that, other University
of Kentucky agronomists continued to investigate the concerns
with Kentucky 31 fescue and helped establish the mechanism by
which fescue toxicosis is effected.
The fact that
the grass found on W.M. Suiter's hillside in 1931 is not a native
grass, but rather of European origins, is puzzling. The story
explaining how this European grass became established in Menifee
County is fascinating but well may be apocryphal. The legend is
that a shipment of bone chinaware from England arrived in Menifee
County sometime in the 19th century. Grass packing material surrounded
the fine china to help prevent breakage during the long ship ride
across the Atlantic. That stowaway grass was tall fescue, and
its own stowaway was the fungal endophyte. The seed in the packing
grass, perhaps planted on purpose or by accident, became the progenitor
of today's fescue, now growing on millions of acres throughout
the South. And despite tall fescue toxicosis, the growth, persistence,
drought tolerance, and suitability on hillsides continue to make
it a very popular grass.
Sometime after the primordial mist had settled and about 50 million
years before dinosaurs, the great land masses of the Americas,
Europe, and Africa collided. The force of the collision, which
took millennia to finish (the collision occurred so slowly that
your fingernails grow at a faster pace) was so full of energy
that it uplifted and tilted one set of rock layers over another,
creating the Appalachians, including Pine Mountain of Kentucky.
And thousands of miles to the east, the Himalayas in Asia were
created at pretty much the same time and by the same forces.
Pine Mountain, on the Kentucky-Tennessee-Virginia border, displays
its history on its western shoulder, where visitors can see the
swell of the layers of rock set at 40 degrees to the horizontal.
The layers of the northwestern edge of Pine Mountain were pushed
up about 2,000 feet eons ago. Since that time, wind and water
have reduced that amount by half. At one strategic point, now
called the Cumberland Gap, erosion was sufficient for passage
of both people and migrating animals.
Pine Mountain (it reaches from near Jellico, Tenn., through Pound,
Va., northward to Pikeville) was so named because of large stands
of pine trees scattered throughout its length, in sharp contrast
to other nearby mountains that have few pines, including Black
Mountain and Cumberland Mountain. The pine stands on the mountain
are due, it is thought, to its thin, sandy soil. It isn't just
pines that make Pine Mountain distinctive. The other flora and
fauna on the mountain are unusual, too. One source says that the
mountain is home to more than 90 species of rare plants and animals.
Several of these are known nowhere else in the world. Of the more
common species, deer (and now elk), bear, and other small mammals,
along with raptors and other high-flying birds, use the 120-mile-long
narrow corridor to move between feeding areas.
will be able to experience the wilderness of the mountain as they
hike its trails and imagine the area a hundred, a thousand, a
million years ago.
a Walk on the Wild Side - top
economic development sometimes advise community leaders to look
at what they already have that could serve as a basis for economic
development before they worry about what they don't have. After
all, they reason, you don't decide what you're going to have for
supper by making a list of what you don't have in your pantry.
positive approach, the people of Letcher County spied a potential
crown jewel in their own backyardPine Mountain, which is
both historic and ecologically significant and a potential renewable
resource for tourism. But how would they move from idea to realization?
Cooperative Extension Agent Shad Baker entered the picture. Four
years ago, Baker responded to community interest in developing
a hiking trail through the areaa hiking trail that would
allow local and maybe some regional hikers to enjoy the wilderness
of Pine Mountain.
with interested local leaders to form a committee to explore the
concept of a simple hiking trail.
The committee, small at first and comprised mostly of people interested
in hiking, quickly expanded to include other local leaders who
realized that Pine Mountain, if properly promoted and protected,
would be the economic shot in the arm they needed to offset dwindling
is pretty strong in Letcher County. After all, its major industry,
coal mining, has had its shares of ups and downs. Some 50 percent
of jobs in the mining industry evaporated between 1990 and 1995,
leaving county people in need of jobs. Per capita income ranks
at just 54 percent of the national average.
firsthand the riskiness of depending on coal for long-run economic
stability; both his mother and father were coal miners.
coal isn't the only blessing we have in this mountain," Baker
grew up in Jenkins, Baker is no stranger to Pine Mountain. "My
grandpa taught me to squirrel hunt on Pine Mountain," he
said. "I think if you're from the area, Pine Mountain always
rests in your soul."
many a mountain boy, plays modest about his role in taking the
community leaders' concept and making it a reality.
what Extension agents do. I helped the people of Letcher County
think through their idea. I connected them with experts who could
help them hone it into a package that would serve the county's
interest in ecotourism while protecting the ecological uniqueness
of the mountain," Baker said. "They did the work; I
just gave them ideas on how to organize their efforts."
One of the first things the local committee did was take stock
of what Pine Mountain offered for tourists. They found one main
attractiona 60-foot waterfall, Bad Branch Falls. The falls
was known locally but probably not on any list of must-see spots
for tourists, although visitors seldom fail to be awestruck by
its majesty and the peaceful wilderness surrounding it.
that the number of tourists coming to view Bad Branch Falls would
be enhanced if we developed a hiking trail. People could do both
when they visited Letcher County," Baker said. And the more
tourists visit, the more money they spend, which boosts the local
running on high, the committee added more members who could help
flesh out a plan. With about 150 members, it became the Pine Mountain
Trail Conference Inc., a more formal organization that would take
the idea to the next stepa plan of action.
Simple to Spectacular
As the local leaders talked about their dreams of sharing Pine
Mountain with the rest of the world, they broadened their initial
concept of the simple, relatively short hiking trail into a spectacular
nature trailnot quite as extensive as the Appalachian Trail
that runs from Georgia to Maine, but a nature trail long enough
to be significant to backpackers, hikers, and nature enthusiasts.
Their plans included a 120-mile-long trail from Breaks Interstate
Park (on the Kentucky-Tennessee-Virginia border) to Cumberland
Gap National Historic Park (near Middlesboro) that would include
the picturesque vistas and panoramas that only Pine Mountain could
offer. Their trail would be a very narrow corridor trailsometimes
only 250 feet wide, sometimes 1,000 feet widethat would
feature natural treasures including upland bogs, pine barrens,
meadows, and pioneer homesteads.
set right smack dab in the middle of the Pine Mountain Corridor
and a stone's throw from Breaks State Park," Baker said.
"We thought if we connected the dots, so to speak, with a
nature trail along the spine of Pine Mountainbetween Breaks
State Park and the lower end of the mountain 120 miles southwest
at Cumberland Gap near Middlesborowe could have an ecotourism
attraction that would lure many tourists to the region."
the plans of the Pine Mountain Trail Conference, the traileven
though still just an idea (although a great idea) was named one
of 16 Millennium Trails by the White House Millennium Council
in 1999, which selected trails that were both ecologically and
historically significant. Extension agent Baker completed the
application for the honor.
Dollars, Then Work
Just two years after a few local people asked Baker to help them
put together a simple hiking trail, the plans were under way for
a major ecotourism draw. And the Pine Mountain Trail Conference,
bolstered by the Millennium designation, applied for a grant of
$1 million to start buying land and easements for the trail's
head in Letcher County. By 2000, the grant was earmarked for the
Pine Mountain Trail Conference in the federal transportation budget,
in large measure through the efforts of Rep. Hal Rogers.
With the grant,
the conference began construction of the trail from U.S. 23 near
Jenkins to Cumberland Gap. Locals call this stretch of Pine Mountain
the Birch Knob section. When this first leg of the trail was completed,
the conference, with the help of the Letcher County Cooperative
Extension Service, published a trail guide for would-be tourists.
The 60-page guide describes the local flora and fauna and provides
maps of points of interest in Letcher County.
its early success, the enthusiasm of Letcher County leaders, and
the promise of economic development coming to the area with the
Pine Mountain Trail project, Gov. Paul Patton asked to meet with
representatives from the group to explore crafting a bill to establish
the corridor needed to complete the trail. And, he allocated $600,000
to match $600,000 provided by the Department for Local Government
to start purchasing privately held land to augment the public
land that makes up much of the trail.
In March 2002,
Gov. Patton signed the bill establishing the corridor into law.
The $1.2 million Patton provided, in addition to the $1 million
received through the federal transportation grant, put really
sturdy legs on the plan.
And to further
help Letcher County's local leaders, the governor asked for $1.2
million from the T21 fund, a federal program to enhance transportation
in the 21st century.
Already, four years after the first community leaders asked Baker
for help in thinking through their idea, the Pine Mountain Trail
is a reality, with 32 miles of trails established. The currently
open stretch starts at Breaks Interstate Park in Elkhorn City
and meanders along the ridge of the Virginia side of Pine Mountain
and back into Kentucky at U.S. 23 above Jenkins. Another 90 miles
of trail will be designated within the next decade.
Will the trail
make a difference in the county's economy in the next few years?
Extension tourism specialist Rick Bates said that the economic
difference the trail will make will resonate throughout the local
economy. He estimates that the average tourist spends about $50
per day for food, lodging, and incidentals.
that the finished trail will attract between 100,000 and 200,000
tourists each year, although only a small number of them will
hike the entire 120 miles of the trail. That yearly estimate rivals
the 250,000 pioneers who crossed west to the frontier through
the Cumberland Gap throughout its entire use from the late 1700s
to the mid-1800s.
of that number of tourists spending $50 per day will be big for
a county where unemployment and underemployment are high. Not
only will more tourists mean more dollars coming into the county,
but there will be more jobs as business activity expands to provide
food, lodging, and hiking equipment for the tourists.
Baker is proud
of the Letcher County leaders' accomplishments with the ecotourism
project shows that Extension is the art of the possible,"
Trail State Park became official March 30, 2002. On hand to mark
the day were, from left to right, Leonard Fleming, Kentucky Department
of Transportation; Shad Baker, Kentucky Cooperative Extension
Service; Randy Tackett, Letcher County attorney; and Gov. Paul
An Old Concept with a New Name
Kentuckians are not strangers to ecotourism, even though the term
is relatively modern. From the 1850s on, Kentucky had abundant
forms of it, from the strange to the still popular. Many other
states did, too. Recall Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, Ruby Falls
in Tennessee, and the La Brea Tar Pits in California, to name
just a few.
sulfur baths were popular respites for mid-19th century Kentuckiansat
least for the landed gentry and their coterie. Called "taking
the waters," these mini-vacations included a strong dose
of attention plus bathing in and drinking water from naturally-occurring
mineral springs. Evenings at these tourist stops may have been
spent at a cotillionthe place to see and be seen by those
who could afford it.
today would ascribe little to the curative powers of such mineralized
waters, it is likely that the dosage that made the difference
to those who felt the cure was due to the tender loving care "patients"
received at the hotels rather than the water they bathed in or
drank. The revelry that accompanied taking the waters may well
have been the efficacious tonic the patrons needed.
Cave area was an early 20th century ecotourism stop. The vast
underground caves, replete with stalactites and stalagmites, lured
thousands of people each year to visit the areaas the caves
still do. It didn't take a Wall Street banker to figure out that
visitors to the caves spent far, far more money locally than the
simple cost of a ticket into the underground warrens. By the 1880s,
guides were hired to shepherd visitors throughout the caves. For
a price, tourists could visit various rooms of the caves that
were embellished by fanciful names such as the Gothic Chapel,
the Maelstrom Pit, and the Bridal Altar.
and trinkets to take home to attest to one's good style in visiting
the caves became a regular source of economic stimulation. Mammoth
Cave alone is said to provide more than $96 million in economic
activity annually to the surrounding area.
The Pine Mountain
Trail will serve as the modern economic catalyst for tourism.
Its ecotourism appeal is to conservationists, nature lovers, and
those who want to enjoy the ecology of the mountain. And while
the trail will mean big business, it will also be compatible with
conservation and preservation of an ecologically important area.
If you want
to know more about hiking the Pine Mountain Trail or want to see
the beauty of the trail, log onto the Web at: www.pinemountaintrail.com
about Bad Branch Falls can be accessed on the Web at: www.KYnaturepreserves.org/badbranch.html
Solving the Medical Mystery of MRLS - top
school through graduate school, students are inculcated with the
scientific method as the preferred way of discovery. To many,
the scientific method seems contemplative, systematic, thorough,
and exhaustive, which indeed it usually is. For scientists, the
method is rigorous, logical, and fascinating, and maybe even comforting
because of its measured pace.
and then, however, all those qualities of the scientific method
must be put to work fast, at breakneck speed, because scientific
discovery cannot wait for the niceties of time. In such urgent
times, experiments succeed and fail in rapid fashion; ideas are
proposed, tested, and pursuedand discarded in favor of more
compelling theoriesin days and weeks instead of years. In
these times of urgency, the scientists themselves renew their
understanding of their passion and excitement for the process
of science, and their appreciation of it becomes even more keen.
Such was the
case in May 2001, when the number of stillborn, weak, and dying
foals and early aborted foals in Central Kentucky mares grew alarmingly
high. During the weekend of the Kentucky Derby, Lenn Harrison,
the director of the UK Livestock Diagnostic Center, knew that
his life in the near future would be directed toward research
at machine gun pace until the causeand hopefully a prevention
strategywas discovered. On Derby Saturday alone, 73 dead
foals and fetuses10 times the normal numberhad been
delivered to the back door of the facility; by Monday, that number
had reached 276. It was becoming abundantly clear with each new
foal or fetus that whatever was causing problems was doing so
with a vengeance.
At the same
time, veterinarians Roberta Dwyer and David Powell of the Maxwell
H. Gluck Equine Research Center were fielding questions from Central
Kentucky horse breeders and local equine veterinary practitioners
who also had noticed an increase in stillborn, weak, and dying
foals as well as aborted fetuses during the last days of April.
a few times that weekend and throughout the next few weeks, when
weekdays, weekends, and workdays were indistinguishable, Harrison
thought about other scientistsepidemiologists who worked
on medical mysteries such as Legionnaire's disease, the Hanta
virusas he organized a strategy to deal with the mystery.
Not only would the scientists have to be good, they would have
to be fast, because every foal or fetus lost due to the mysterious
illness represented a monetary loss of great magnitude. With each
ticktock of the clock, the cost of the disease, as well as fear
among horse breeders, grew.
of the Puzzle
The pieces of the puzzle were intriguing. The epidemic seemed
to be restricted for the most part to Central Kentucky, with few
similar cases being reported in other states, and the disease
affected all breeds of horses from ponies to Thoroughbreds to
Morganshorses that would most likely never have contact
with each otherdiscounting a bit the idea that a communicable
contagion was causing the problems. Further, the onset of the
disease was sudden, with a sharp escalation in cases. Research
had to find an answera control and preventionif not
an explanation. Harrison and the scientists from the Livestock
Disease Diagnostic Center couldn't do it alone; they needed help.
of the Derby, a team of more than 100 scientists from all over
the College of Agriculture was assembled to investigate the mysterious
disease. In some ways, organizing research to find answers as
fast as possible is like playing the parlor game of 20 Questions.
Instead of asking about whether it was animal, vegetable, or mineral,
team members asked whether the cause of the weak foal and fetal
losses was viral, bacterial, or environmental. If the cause were
bacterial or viral, it might well be contagious; because of the
great number of deaths and abortions, that possibility couldn't
be ruled out entirely. And if it were environmental, what was
the reason that it seemingly was confined to a very narrow band,
nearly exclusively in the Central Bluegrass? Known viral agents,
Harrison knew, would show up on necropsy and subsequent tissue
testing. (Necropsy is a term used when a postmortem examination
is performed on an animal, roughly equivalent to an autopsy in
humans.) The pathologists found no indication of known viruses.
agents, too, would show up at necropsy as damage to particular
organs and could be cultured using petri dishes, a growing medium,
and a warm environment. Unlike viruses, however, bacteria are
found often on necropsy, and some bacteria are considered routine
invaders of dead animalssort of the coffin flies of bacteria.
Early necropsies found rare bacterial infections in many aborted
fetuses, but the scientists concluded that while they were rareand
even perhaps related to the syndromethey likely were not
the sole culprit, the smoking gun, that caused death.
And with either
viruses or bacteria, the findings from necropsy should be pretty
much consistent from accession (a fancy term for dead animals
logged in for examination for cause of death) to accession. If,
for example, the virus damaged the liverand caused death
by that damagethen the damage to the liver should be found
in every necropsy performed in theory and most in practice.
By May 14, just a hair over two weeks after the staff at the Livestock
Disease Diagnostic Center first noticed the unusual number of
foals and aborted fetuses being sent for necropsy, results of
a survey of Central Kentucky horse farms indicated that the syndrome
was widespread in the area, and it was continuing.
By this time,
the mystery was occupying most of the pathologists at the Livestock
Disease Diagnostic Center as well as scientists at Gluck Equine
Research Center, the Department of Animal Sciences, and local
equine practitioners. Several faculty members at Gluck remembered
that in 1980 and again in 1981, early fetal losses were unusually
highbut not as high as the current losses. No cause had
ever been found. In both years, the mysterious syndrome started
and stopped rather abruptly.
starting and stopping of fetal and foal losses suggested strongly,
but not absolutely, that something in the environment was related
to the syndrome, by now named the Mare Reproductive Loss Syndrome
What was common
about 1980, 1981, and 2001 that could be related to outbreaks
of early fetal losses and weak and dying foals?
pattern of weather conditions just prior to the outbreak in all
three years occurred," Harrison said. "March temperatures
were below normal in all three years, followed by above-normal
temperatures in April. Such a pattern could be related to an explosive
biological activity in both plants and insects." All three
years also were noted for having a frost or freeze in the third
week of April followed by a warm-up just days later.
in weather patterns was strongly suggestive of something weather-related
occurring that had an effect on pregnant mares and their fetuses,
The avenue of the search now turned to biological factors related
to weather either through plants or insects.
of the research teams within and outside the College of Agriculture
was facilitated by veterinarian David Powell of the Gluck Equine
Research Center and included scientists from practically every
discipline whose knowledge could define the scope of the inquiry.
be linked to a variety of possible agents of the fetal deaths
and weak foal births, including mycotoxins, poisons given off
by fungi that can explode when the weather is just right, ergot-type
alkaloids (also given off by fungi), and phytoestrogens, which
are plant hormones that mimic naturally produced estrogens. At
first blush, all of these seemed among the possible suspects for
the losses. If any of these were the cause of the syndrome, they
should show up on testing. None did.
If the common
culprits appeared unrelated to the losses, the question became
more intriguing. Weather and what else?
on, some people had suggested that eastern tent caterpillars might
be the culprit, but it didn't seem plausible," Harrison said.
"No one had ever reported that tent caterpillars were anything
but fairly benign creatures that created inconsequential webs
in trees in early spring."
But with time
ticking away and no other obvious cause on the horizon, the scientists
turned their attention to the eastern tent caterpillar. The literature
on the caterpillars did, however, indicate that their favorite
plant to feast on was the wild cherry tree. Wild cherry leaves
can release cyanide, a poison, when ingested and were known to
be deadly to livestock eating them in large amounts.
Jimmy Henning, now a principal investigator on the problem, noticed
on visits to farms where the outbreaks had been most severe that
wild cherry treesand eastern tent caterpillarswere
also abundant. A thorough survey of farm managers with and without
losses to MRLS was led by veterinarian Roberta Dwyer and confirmed
the associations. But, as any scientist knows, simple presence
of phenomena does not necessarily imply a cause and effect relationship.
Nonetheless, the idea was intriguing and worth further exploration.
By May 20,
2001less than a month after the first known casesthe
deaths of newborn foals and spontaneous abortions of early fetuses
dropped off precipitously, just as they began. This coincided
with the drop in eastern tent caterpillar numbers. And although
losses were down to normal levels, the scientists continued their
search to prevent and explain the syndrome that reared up in 1980,
1981, and 2001. What about future outbreaks?
With eastern tent caterpillars coincidently being linked to the
losses, the next step was to try to replicate the losses in a
controlled experiment. Up to now, the scientists had to rely on
survey techniques that helped narrow the field of causes, but
they were less than conclusive in a scientific sense.
Bruce Webb, whose specialty is insect molecular virology, and
equine reproductive researcher Karen McDowell designed an experiment
to see if eastern tent caterpillars were linked to the losses.
was straightforward: expose 10 pregnant mares to high levels of
tent caterpillars and their frass (excrement), expose nine mares
only to the frass, and try to minimize exposure of 10 mares to
both caterpillars and frass in a control treatment.
a week, the first losses were noted, and ultimately 70 percent
of the mares exposed to the eastern tent caterpillars or their
frass aborted their foals. Mares in the no-treatment group also
had abortions, but significantly fewer. Webb explains that those
abortions were likely related to the fact that the experimental
facilities failed to keep all the caterpillars in their assigned
pens. Because of logistical problems, caterpillar fencesmade
of plastic pipe cut into a half-round shape so that the caterpillars
would fall back to the ground if they tried to crawl outside the
pencould not be completed until the experiment was well
under way. Webbs data confirmed that some of the caterpillars
escaped to other treatment groups. Indeed, he found out caterpillars
are harder to keep in a herd than horses.
this experiment, we were pretty sure that caterpillars were associated
with the fetal losses. And following our initial experiment, we
worked with local equine veterinary practitioners to verify our
findings with another experiment," Webb said.
In that experiment
15 mares were put into one of three treatments. Those in one group
were administered ground-up caterpillars directly into the stomach
in a saline solution; a second group received frass in a saline
solution; the third set of mares received the saline only.
percent of the mares treated with the ground-up caterpillars aborted
their fetuses, while none of the other mares did," Webb said.
"With that, we were pretty confident that whole caterpillarsand
not just their frasswere associated with MRLS." So
if horse producers wanted to minimize their losses to MRLS, they
should try to minimize exposure of pregnant mares to the eastern
'How' Is Still Unanswered
Okay, if caterpillars are linked to the outbreak of the syndrome,
then how? That's still under investigation by scientists.
they are pursuing three leads on the precise mechanism by which
eastern tent caterpillars cause such destruction:
it might be that eastern tent caterpillars are the vector for
some heretofore unidentified pathogen.
eastern tent caterpillars could carry an unidentified toxin,
such as the blister beetle carries canthradin poison, so lethal
to horses but not other animals. Scientists are studying the
eastern tent caterpillar further to determine if this is possible.
something about eastern tent caterpillars themselves may cause
internal injuries to horses, which would result in secondary
pathogens getting a foothold in pregnant mares and foals.
the first MRLS cases in 2001 to the last in 2002, scientists have
been perplexed by the many features of this syndrome," Harrison
said. "Now that a strong, scientifically-based association
has been made between MRLS and the eastern tent caterpillar, scientists
can focus their research efforts on projects that will provide
a thorough understanding of the mechanisms that cause this disease
Power of Teamwork
While the logic of science helped the scientists ferret out the
association between eastern tent caterpillars and Mare Reproductive
Loss Syndrome, it wouldn't have happened without the complete
dedication and cooperation of more than 100 scientists in the
College of Agriculture, who worked together with equine veterinary
practitioners, and Kentucky farm managers. Every person involved
provided yeoman's service to the cause.
vigilantly tramped through pastures throughout Central Kentucky,
assessing them for a plethora of factors that might even distantly
be related to the syndrome. In addition, they spent days and weeks
investigating potential causes and some factors that were, quite
frankly, long shots. Equine veterinary practitioners monitored
their cases of MRLS and provided rich data to the UK scientists;
without their help the association between tent caterpillars and
the syndrome might still be obscure. Vigilant farm managers kept
tabs on the situation and provided complete access to their farm
records and situations, helping speed up the investigation enormously.
Extension Annual Report - top
by Martha Jackson
Our job is
to help people improve their quality of life.
One of our
Extension specialists, talking about his work in community development,
said that local citizens "can take the information and run
with it themselves; you can let go of the process. It truly is
education." Said another: "We bring credibility. We're
unbiased, research-based. People trust us."
genius of Extension: our mission to empower people to help themselves
and our visible, credible presence across the state. We have lots
of stories to tell about how we carried out our mission in 2002.
Our efforts in agricultural development have been especially significant
in 2002. As Kentucky producers have looked for alternatives to
tobacco and as tobacco settlement funds have been made available
through the Governor's Office of Agricultural Policy, Extension
has played a critical central role. We have helped develop local
leadership and have provided support and education for local leaders
and producers as they assess county needs.
To help producers
replace lost tobacco income, we also continued to provide research-based
information to help them maintain viable agricultural production
systems and develop new, diversified operations. Among the many
other activities and programs conducted by Extension in 2002,
with the Kentucky Horticulture Council, the Kentucky Agricultural
Development Board, and the New Crop Opportunities Center in
bringing research-based information about alternative horticultural
crops to producers.
the Kentucky Agricultural Development Board, the Kentucky Beef
Network, USDA, and the Kentucky Department of Agriculture in
helping the state's beef producers improve quality and markets
for our beef products. We also worked with producers to develop
new livestock enterprises such as meat goat production.
with the Kentucky School of Public Health and USDA, a partnership
called Health Education through Extension Leadership (HEEL),
which will provide new access to health information through
county and state 4-H "conversations" and Kentucky's
participation in a national conversation to help young people
expand their role in shaping their own lives and the world around
communities assess their strengths and weaknesses and develop
new opportunities for locally based businesses, including those
youth and adults about life skills such as good parenting and
citizens ways to protect and preserve Kentucky's natural resources
by the Numbers in 2002
Extension made 6.7 million contacts in 2002, including contacts
with more than 49,000 Hispanic residents, a growing segment of
Kentucky's population. In addition:
- $19 million
in additional income was realized by Kentucky farmers who adopted
people gained leadership skills.
people made lifestyle changes to improve their health.
people took steps to reduce their debt or increase savings.
youth and adults learned new life skills.
individuals adopted practices to improve the quality of Kentucky's
We are proud
to have served you in 2002 and look forward to working with you
in the years ahead.
Larry W. Turner, Associate Dean for Extension
Associate Director, Cooperative Extension Service
306 W.P. Garrigus Building
University of Kentucky
Lexington, KY 40546-0215
of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service received a total of
$62 million in funding in the fiscal year 2002.
The University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service receives
funding from county, state, and federal sources in addition to
external competitive grants and contracts. In fiscal 2002 (July
1, 2001June 30, 2002), 81% of Extension's $62 million base
was from state and county sources. These funds were supplemented
with approximately $4.5 million in external grants and contracts.
Counties also fund local facilities and some additional program
and staff support.
CES programming is supported by faculty and staff on campus in
Lexington, at the Research and Education Center in Princeton,
Robinson Station in Quicksand, and in each of Kentucky's 120 counties.
Many of the ideas for efficient beef-forage systems promoted by
Extension over the years are now coming to fruition, for two reasons:
- With its
large number of beef cattle and a forage base of 6 to 7 million
acres, Kentucky clearly is a major beef-producing state. The
latest agricultural statistics show that Kentucky has more beef
cattle than any state east of the Mississippi.
- An influx
of tobacco settlement money is funding new options for farmers
for whom expanded beef production makes sense. Many farmers
have raised beef along with tobacco in the past, so both the
knowledge base and infrastructure for marketing and selling
it are already in place.
where we can make the biggest long-range sustainable impact. We've
got a huge opportunity to position ourselves as the best in the
country," said Roy Burris, Extension beef specialist.
go with your strength. We've got a lot of land that can't be used
for other purposes," said Jimmy Henning, Extension forage
former assistant director of CES for ag and natural resources,
said that when national speakers talk about what's needed in beef
production "it's a checklist of what's happening in Kentucky."
Why? Lee Meyer,
ag economics Extension professor, said "we're making better
use of our resourcesthe land, for example." Meyer also
thinks Kentucky is improving the nutritional forage and reproductive
efficiency of its cattle herds, resulting in greater profit.
most importantly, "we've got a more professional beef cattle
Many of these
"more professional" beef producers are taking advantage
of the research-based advice Cooperative Extension provides, including:
- Best management
practices for improving forage, bull genetics, and cattle handling,
so every producer doesn't have to reinvent the wheel.
- The certified
preconditioned health programs for feeder calves. The calves
certified through the program bring, on average, $40 more per
head than calves in other sales.
resource management, so producers can mesh their beef and forage
systems for maximum productivity.
- The Five-State
Beef Initiative (Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan),
which tracks calves electronically through production, providing
feedback that helps producers make profitable improvements to
their beef management practices.
including grazing workshops, demonstrations, videos, pocket-sized
publications to take to pasture, even a kind of high school
(Master Cattleman Program) and graduate school (Cow College)
for beef producers.
beef production in Kentucky is not a solo act for Extension. Also
involved are the College's research faculty, the Kentucky Cattlemen's
Association, the Agricultural Development Board managed by the
Governor's Office for Agricultural Policy, the Kentucky Department
of Agriculture, the Kentucky Farm Bureau, local veterinarians,
and cattle producer associations. But Extension, with its hands-on
approach and widespread agent base, is uniquely suited to helping
beef producers learn new tricks.
County, more than 130 beef producers have begun to sell their
cattle through a multi-county association, a trend being played
out across the state. "When you join forces and get volume,
you can market in a much larger fashion and see some premiums,"
said Glenn Mackie, Bourbons ag and natural resources agent.
alliance of beef producers in southern Kentucky, the Wilderness
Trail Area Beef Marketing Alliance, has added $45 per head to
the price beef can bring, said Glen Williams, Laurel County's
ag and natural resources agent.
been able to rejuvenate forages and have better quality facilities,"
County, tobacco settlement money has provided funding "to
help do some of the things we knew 15 years ago would help,"
said John Wilson, the countys ag and natural resources agent.
Replacement heifer sales are improving the female side of the
herd. The genetics of Madison County bulls are improving too.
"We put out about 99 quality bulls in 2001, 65 this year,
and expect to put out 150 more in the next five years," Wilson
A groundswell of change is afoot as Kentuckians use creativity,
positive thinking, and plain hard work to help their communities
grow while they sustain the local way of life. Extension is in
the middle of all this effort and is:
people to people, people to agencies, and agencies to other
agencies so that ideas can become reality.
information communities can use, such as economic data and expertise
in business development.
written and visual materials and training so local citizens
can take advantage of proven methods to gain participation,
set and accomplish goals, and assess the results.
in Taylor County, made headlines about five years ago when Fruit
of the Loom closed its plant there, taking thousands of local
jobs to Honduras.
was identified by the Extension Council as Extension's top priority,
said Becky Nash, the countys family and consumer sciences
local workforce in Taylor County while hunting new industry was
important. Extension helped a local crisis relief center consolidate
services of several groups in one place.
effort has been The Homeplace on Green River Inc., a 230-acre
agricultural treasure trove near Green River Lake in the area
of Taylor, Green and Adair counties. The property, Nash said,
has possibilities for agritourism, education, and conservation.
It could also demonstrate practices for sustainable farming and
Homeplace a reality involved several agencies, three counties,
a tourism development association, and the Nature Conservancy.
Extension was able to help pull people together, point leaders
in the right direction to obtain funding, and help set up the
organizational structure. A coalition of leaders and agencies
has worked to find ways to put the local economy back on its feet.
Most notably, it has brought in the Internet retailer Amazon.com,
which has created new local jobs with a distribution center housed
in Fruit of the Loom's former space. Taylor County's unemployment
rate is now at about 7 percent, Nash saidcompared to 28
percent about five years ago.
County, there were few jobs, and geography made it easier to get
out than come in, said Gwenda Adkins, the countys family
and consumer sciences agent. Extension and other groups began
to look at what the county had to offer instead of what it lacked.
They found that Elliott County had more riches than might first
geologic formations, pristine streams, history, folk artists,
traditional crafters," Adkins said. As community development
efforts got under way, Extension offered guidance and connected
the local, state, and national resources necessary for change
County has a hotel, and storefronts and the courthouse have been
remodeled. And, the county has a handicapped-accessible hiking
In Wolfe County,
there's a new building downtown with a big blue awning. It's an
Extension education center, but family and consumer sciences agent
Kaye Holbrook thinks the building, used for all kinds of meetings,
is also a tangible sign that her community is moving forward.
"It has become a viable part of this community because it's
neutral ground," she said.
In Pike County,
Tim Campbell is blazing a trail as one of the first community
development agents hired by Extension in Kentucky.
who previously worked in community development in Wisconsin, had
praise for Pike County's leaders. "It's a real team attitude,"
he'll work with those leaders to look at the county's potential
for business retention and expansion.
Kentuckians for Health
Some of the states health statistics are grim andif
you look at the people behind the numbersheart wrenching.
- From 1994
to 2000, the incidence of diagnosed diabetes in Kentucky went
up 50 percent.
of lung cancer, colon cancer, and prostate cancer is higher
than the national average.
ranks near the top of the list nationally in incidence of heart
more, an important part of the mission of Family and Consumer
Sciences is to empower Kentuckians to take better care of their
physical, emotional, and financial health.
got to find the key to make Kentucky well, vibrant, and healthy,"
said Bonnie Tanner, assistant Extension director for Family and
is making itself evident in the commonwealth through:
at the county level, with how-to publications to support them.
- The Health
Education Extension Leadership (HEEL) initiative, a groundbreaking
approach that's combining resources across University lines.
Extension personnel who see the need firsthand and find creative
ways to help.
program is Wildcat Way to Wellness, which began several years
ago as a snappy way to get across the message of good health.
Now, the program has rolled out a 4-H editionthe Clover
Cat Way to Wellnessfor young Kentuckians.
topic has been how to have healthy indoor airimportant in
a state where, the number of children with asthma is rising, as
it is nationally. Unhealthy indoor air is part of the problem.
Keys to Great Parenting program has distilled research about good
parenting into seven concepts supported by easy-to-read materials,
now available in English and Spanish.
also makes sure county agents receive up-to-date information about
the Kentucky Children's Insurance Program (K-CHIP) so all eligible
children can be enrolled in it.
programming on aging gracefully and estate planning.
Assistant Director Tanner, talking about the HEEL partnership
of Cooperative Extension and the Kentucky School of Public Health,
says the joint initiative is "involvement, commitment"
because, in a move uncommon in university circles, Extension and
the Kentucky School of Public Health have both put up money for
faculty to run the program.
prone to forget that this programming is about lives, all you
have to do is hear some of the local stories about Family and
Consumer Sciences' health programs.
At least once
a month, Alice Ann Bradley, Letcher County's family and consumer
sciences agent, loads an Extension van with women who now have
an annual appointment on their calendars: a screening at UK's
Markey Cancer Center for ovarian cancer, potentially fatal and
often without symptoms until its later stages.
County, Cathy Howell, program assistant with the Extended Food
and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP), is a true believer in
what her program does. She puts her zeal and her cooking skills
together to motivate her clients to eat healthy foods.
takes UK medical residents who are rotating through a local pediatric
practice along with her on home visits, if the clients say okay.
Having doctors-in-training see the home setting was the pediatrician's
idea, and Howell thinks it's a good one.
become aware of who it is they are working with," she said.
County, a woman with diabetes has been coming faithfully to a
Wildcat Way to Wellness exercise class. She no longer needs to
take insulin, and her doctor says that if she keeps it up, she
may be able to stop taking her oral medications as well.
making this kind of difference!" said Becky Nash, Taylor
County family and consumer sciences agent.
Kids about Money
4-H is helping Kentucky's youth grow smarter about money, careers,
and making life decisions. It uses three programsReality
Store, Mini-Society, and Dollars and Senseto help kids acquire
a skill that some of us never learn: how to stretch dollars so
you can thrive financially.
requested by school systems and supported by classroom teachers,
chambers of commerce, and parents, have been immensely popular.
the 4-H Extension associate who has been a leader in Extension's
effort to prepare youth for the workforce, estimates that last
year 40,000 Kentucky kids took part in a Reality Store.
of youth realize for the first time that there is a connection
between the career they choose, the educational requirements for
that career, and the potential lifestyle that career might produce,"
County, eighth graders show up for their Reality Store at the
Extension office on a day in late January or February. They all
have pre-assigned careers. Those careers determines everything
Atkins, Metcalfe 4-H agent, said "reality hits when they
walk in and are told they have an after-tax salary of $1,000 to
gets a ledger sheet and walks from booth to booth, "buying"
the necessities of life: housing, transportation, groceries, taxes,
utilities, garbage pickup. And the students make choices among
low, average, and high cost items. Every time they pay a bill
or make a purchase, money is deducted from their ledger sheets.
As part of
the dose of reality, every student has to support a child on whatever
salary he or she makes.
who find themselves in financial trouble, there's an S.O.S. booth.
They might hear, "You're running out of money? Give up that
the students are amazed at how much it costs to raise a family.
The ultimate goal, she said, "is that they think about education
and career and also realize that budgeting is part of life and
that wants and needs are different."
County and some other counties, a sixth-grade version of Reality
Store is used. It's called Dollars and Sense.
a salary, kids get an allowance. Instead of a child, they get
a pet. "It's the same shock factor," said Janet Turley,
Warren's 4-H agent.
the students who go through the program learn "that money
does have to be stretched."
In about 40
counties across Kentucky, Mini-Society comes to life for fourth
and fifth graders as a way to teach business concepts: how money
works, how businesses develop, how to solve problems related to
competition. The program is funded by the Kaufmann Center for
Entrepreneurial Leadership at the Ewing Marion Kaufmann Foundation.
One year in
Green County, Tyrone Gentry, Green Countys 4-H agent, said
the kids dreamed up ways to make money, both services and products.
was a pencil-sharpening experta fine tip for a price,"
Gentry said. "A newspaper developed. Other businesses could
buy ads in it. One kid brought in a karaoke machine; you could
dedicate songs to folks or pay for announcements."
enthusiastic about Mini-Society. "The things the kids come
up with, the creativity with services, productsit never
ceases to amaze you," he said. One Mini-Society "graduate,"
now in high school, makes $8,000 to $10,000 a year selling lawn
furniture. Gentry says the young man learned some of his business
skills in Mini-Society.
He sees long-term
value in what Mini-Society teaches, not only for individuals,
but for his community as a whole. It offers kids a chance to learn
how to create a business or service that can provide them a living
in their hometowns. They won't necessarily be forced to move or
commute long distances to find work.
really workforce development," Gentry said.
Much of Kentucky's agricultural landscape used to be painted in
the rich browns of tobacco, but as the market for that product
shifts, farmers are beginning to grow a broader palette: blackberries,
blueberries, tomatoes, green peppers, corn, and so much more.
are finding that the marketing of fruits, vegetables, and nursery
products is a crucial and complex part of the job.
specialists and agents are helping producers move into this brave
new world, where you have to think more like Madison Avenue and
less like Mayberry. Growers are joining up with other growers,
and farmers are traveling outside the state to ferret out market
possibilities. Producers may have tomatoes in the back of the
pickup truck, but they have spreadsheets in their hands. Through
demonstrations, workshops, publications, and conferences, Extension
has worked to make sure horticultural producers have:
to package and promote their products.
research data on what buyers want.
for local and regional marketing efforts.
working with agencies including the Kentucky Department of Agriculture
and the Kentucky Farm Bureau, is helping farmers successfully
market their horticultural products through farmers markets and
roadside markets, on-farm sales, and cooperatives (three out of
the four horticultural cooperatives in the state have sprung up
in the past five years).
abound. In Daviess County, Annette Meyer Heisdorffer, Extension
horticultural agent, helped Western Kentucky farmers find a market
for their sweet corn. It seems that a growers cooperative in Florida
needed a supplier of corn in July and August (when it's too hot
in Florida to grow it) so it could offer its customers corn year-round.
It just so happens that July and August is when Kentucky's corn
is at its best. It was a match made in heavenor at least
by the West Kentucky Growers Cooperative, which grew out of the
venture. The cooperative is now 65 members strong, and sales top
On a smaller
scale, Meade County now has a farmers market that's a success.
staff, working with local producers, found out that customers
wanted to buy produce in the afternoons, on the way home from
work. In the past, farmers had unsuccessfully tried to market
their wares in the mornings.
So, the market
was set up from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays in the
Extension parking lot, which faces the bypass. It has been a success.
In the Lincoln
Trail and Mammoth Cave areas, consumers and farmers have begun
to connect through the Farm to Table programs. They're learning
marketing techniques they can use for direct selling.
honing in on what's easy: milk crates, folding tables, bales of
straw," said Janet Johnson, Allen County Extension agent
for family and consumer sciences.
Farm to Table
has also given growers in the Lincoln Trail and Mammoth Cave areas
a chance to network. Meeting other growers and consumers at two
annual conferences and other events has sparked ideas for new
products and forged business relationships.
works with the College's New Crops Opportunities Center to gather
the hard data on packaging, size, and taste that growers need
to tweak their products. Sometimes that's as simple as handing
a shopper a spoonful of blackberries to sample. "The market
research helps them get the most out of the opportunity,"
The kind of
systematic and comprehensive gathering of market information Extension
is able to providewith the help of research colleaguesgives
Kentucky's horticultural producers that much more of a competitive
background photos in this annual report are of the sand mural
that hangs in the upper lobby of the Agricultural Science Center.
Records show that the mural was completed in the early 1960s by
Mr. and Mrs. Louis Frederick, Louisville artists.
thanks to Tom Barnes, Extension wildlife specialist, for use of
his photos on the cover and in the story Take a Walk on the Wild
Side. On the front cover: Bad Branch Falls in Letcher County.
Inset: cardinal. On the back cover: Copes gray tree frog.
Inset: spicebush swallowtail. Page 11: Poor Fork of the Cumberland
River: Inset: northern red salamander. Page 12: large flowered
trillium. Inset: gray fox. Page 13: View of Letcher County from
the top of Pine Mountain.
natural wonders of Pine Mountain in Eastern Kentucky are depicted
by Letcher County artists in a trail guide for hikers, including
winter (top) and summer (bottom) by Patricia Shelton and A
Scout Outing (center) by Gail Patterson.