Research and Extension evolves to meet Kansans' current, future needs
By Pat Melgares
they still are a-changing.
summer, a group of city kids found themselves singing songs around a campfire.
They were part of a 4-H youth program that brings inner-city youth to
the Rock Springs campground near Junction City for four days of canoeing,
horseback riding, hiking and, those evening campfires.
12-year-old: "This has been another home for me. All the counselors
have been friends like I have never had."
like K-State Research and Extension -- which administers the state's 4-H
program -- change is a constant.
the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative
Extension Service, K-State Research and Extension employs approximately
300 research scientists, 180 faculty specialists and program leaders,
270 county and area specialists and 400 support staff. Personnel are located
at the main campus, in 105 county offices, and several research centers
and area offices around the state.
Much of its
transformation during the past 135 years -- K-State began statewide extension
work in 1868 -- has been driven by citizens in small and large Kansas
that's the way it's supposed to be. As one of the nation's original land-grant
institutions, Kansas State University is required to provide teaching
and education to the people of Kansas. In today's world, that means conducting
the necessary research to understand new problems and letting people know
how new information can help improve the way they live.
* Early in
2003, K-State researchers released Overley, a red wheat that will help
farmers in eastern and central Kansas improve their yields. Overley was
developed to resist such wheat diseases as leaf rust, soil-borne mosaic
and spindle streak spot. K-State Research and Extension has found that
for each dollar invested in development of wheat varieties, nearly $12
was earned by Kansas wheat producers. In the photo below, Joe Martin,
a wheat breeder at the Western Kansas Agricultural Research Center in
Hays, checks on white wheat varieties he's developing.
* More than
686,000 Kansans suffer from symptoms of arthritis. In cooperation with
the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, K-State Research and
Extension is distributing information and promoting awareness, education
and self-help programs across the state.
is the headquarters for the Great Plains Diagnostic Network, which is
designed to protect America's food and fiber industry from a terrorist
-- or even an unintentional -- attack on farm crops. A K-State Research
and Extension systems engineer designed the plant diagnostics system,
which is being adopted by the National Plant Diagnostics Network, a program
supported by the United States Office of Homeland Security.
* The K-State
Research and Extension Family Nutrition Program teaches low-income persons
-- from youth to older adults -- how to choose and prepare nutritious
meals on a limited budget, how to handle food safely and how to balance
healthy eating practices with physical activity. The program works with
other programs, such as Head Start, WIC -- Women, Infants, Children, shelters
and more in 84 Kansas counties. A similar, in-home nutrition program is
providing nutrition education and home-delivered meals to older adults.
goes on and on. In addition to its historic strength in helping Kansas'
farmers, K-State Research and Extension
* helps parents
raise healthy and productive children;
* helps residents make better decisions on managing their money;
* helps protect and nurture the environment, including the quality of
* provides information on everything from rabid skunks in the backyard
and fertilizing the home lawn to community economic development and troubled
youth in our cities; and
* helps Kansans simply enjoy life more.
need information, K-State Research and Extension aims to provide it.
the assistant to the director of K-State Research and Extension, notes
that the organization is citizen-driven. Every county in Kansas has formed
local advisory boards, which assist in hiring local extension agents,
planning local programs and determining the issues that are most important
to 'real' people.
In one area,
it may be food safety awareness; in another, perhaps it is support for
farmer's markets. Or, it's a logical reason for why city kids are tuning
their vocal chords around a back-country campfire.
information on K-State Research and Extension's local programs, visit
the local extension office or the Web site at http://www.ksre.k-state.edu/
sampling of K-State Research and Extension programs
Research and Extension provides research-based information that
helps Kansans in their everyday lives. Here's a sample of programs
that are available in Kansas. More information is available through
K-State Research and Extension's Web site at http://www.ksre.k-state.edu/
Security: Protecting agriculture in Kansas and the Great Plains
is vital to food security in the United States. The region's farmers
grow 95 percent of the nation's sunflower acres; 84 percent of the
sorghum; 73 percent of the wheat; 55 percent of the dry beans; 42
percent of the cotton; and 35 percent of the sugar beets.
Research and Extension has developed a plant diagnostics system
that will monitor the outbreak of disease in farm or horticultural
crops anywhere in the United States. K-State is the headquarters
for the Great Plains Diagnostic Network, and is providing technical
and communications support for the National Plant Diagnostic Network
and its other four regional headquarters at Michigan State, Cornell,
the University of Florida and the University of California-Davis.
more about the Great Plains Diagnostic Network at http://www.gpdn.org/
Management: Kansas Extension offices are banding together to
offer the program, "Kansas Saves: Financial Management for
Life." The program was launched in Kansas in October 2003,
and training is available to any Kansas resident. Participants may
attend seminars and will receive a workbook, the "Personal
Financial Toolkit," that will provide guidance on how to reduce
and stay out of debt, and how to build savings.
statewide network makes it a great fit for the new financial education
effort, said Angela Cichocki, a former county Extension agent
who now works for the Kansas Securities Commission.
your local K-State Research and Extension office for more information
about Kansas Saves: Financial Management for Life.
programs: About 200 grade school students in Topeka participated
in the 4-H Afterschool program last year. In particular, the program
reaches out to children who lack stability in their lives; it's
estimated that 40 percent of the students in that part of Topeka
move before the end of the school year.
a place they can go other than school, even if it's just once a
week, where with the help of a caring adult, they can participate
in something positive and learn by doing," said Shawnee County
4-H agent Leroy Russell.
addition to Topeka, other Kansas communities with 4-H Afterschool
programs include Council Grove, Kansas City, Leavenworth, Atchison,
Wichita and Hoxie. Currently, 4.2 million young people participate
in 4-H Afterschool programs in more than 260,000 sites nationwide.
for farmers: When farmers needed help treading through the various
provisions of the 2002 Farm Bill, K-State Research and Extension
was there to help. The university's AgManager Web site is a farmer's
best friend for finding information on commodity programs in the
newest farm bill.
AgManager site, produced by K-State Research and Extension, also
has information on crops and livestock marketing, farm management,
human resources, income tax and legal issues and other topics of
interest to agribusinesses. It provides information, analysis and
decision-making tools for agricultural producers, agribusinesses
Kansas: Thousands of Kansans are becoming more health-conscious
thanks to a program that encourages them to join teams and walk
across the state ... sort of.
joining the eight-week Walk Kansas program in which teams of six
people log their daily miles of exercise, and report them to a team
captain who adds them all up. If they total 423 miles or more --
the distance across Kansas -- they have effectively walked across
than 12,000 Kansans participated in Walk Kansas in 2003. K-State
Research and Extension agents conducted the program in 80 of 105
counties. The program is in its third year.
expands to cities, minorities: In 2003, nearly 168,000 youth
were involved in 4-H programs in Kansas. That represents about one
in five kids between the ages of 5 and 18, according to data from
the state 4-H office at Kansas State University.
addition, there were 6,181 adults and 4,234 youth who volunteered
their time for 4-H programs in 2003. Approximately 48 percent of
4-Hers are from cities of 10,000 residents or more, including 8
percent from suburbs and 21 percent from metropolitan areas. Forty-nine
percent of Kansas 4-Hers are male, and 51 percent are female.
more about Kansas 4-H at http://www.kansas4h.org/