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Funded Projects

Building Bridges of Trust 

Project lead(s): Sarah Geegan, College of Communication and Information 

Campus collaborators: Laura Butler, Human Development Institute; Erin Hester, College of Communication and Information; Janie Cambron, College of Public Health; Joe Monroe, Uk Chief of Police; Stacy Sandifer, College of Nursing 

Abstract: Scholars continuously raise concerns about inclusion of people with disabilities (PWD) in emergency management (EM) planning (Weibgen, 2015; Vasquez, 2021). Additionally, research demonstrates that PWD lack faith in EM’s ability to save them in an emergency (Finkelstein & Finkelstein, 2019). This proposal would leverage the power of UK Extension and unite transdisciplinary efforts among scholars focused on these concerns. It outlines a collaborative plan to build resilience through communities of practice in three southeast Kentucky counties, laying a foundation for future project expansion. The ultimate goal—in alignment with the health and well-being and community vitality priority areas—is to engage stakeholders behind a common outcome: improved safety, health, and welfare of PWD in Kentucky. 

Arts Preparedness in Kentucky 

Project lead(s): Leah Hamilton, College of Fine Arts 

Campus collaborators: Melissa Bond, M-G CAFE Arts Extension; Karyn Hinkle, College of Fine Arts; Cortney Moses, Whitley County Extension and Susan Miller, Boone County Extension (M-G CAFE) 

Community/external collaborators: Matthew Kowal, Majestic Collaborations 

Abstract: Community arts organizations use festivals and fairs to promote civic engagement, wellness, and economic development; however, these events are also uniquely vulnerable to potential emergencies or disasters. Through a partnership with the Department of Arts Administration, UK Cooperative Arts Extension, local festival coordinators, and national safety and security leaders, this project will provide a model for building safe and resilient community arts festivals and events. 

Assessing Access to Care 

Project lead(s): Melody Ryan, College of Pharmacy 

Campus collaborators: Craig Borie, UK International Center; Katherine Jury, M-G CAFE FCS Extension; Anthony Mangino and Ketrell McWhorter, College of Public Health; Heather Norman-Burgdolf, M-G CAFE Dietetics and Human Nutrition 

Community/external collaborators: Mary Cobb, Kentucky Refugee Ministries 

Abstract: This project uses transdisciplinary participatory research to develop, test, and administer a survey addressing the refugee community’s need for access to quality care. Analysis of the data will be used to provide tools to Cooperative Extension and Kentucky Refugee Ministries to improve access to care for this community. 

Empowering STEM 

Project lead(s): Philip Lee, College of Engineering 

Campus collaborators: David Parsley and Catherine Maware, College of Engineering; Genaea Sarantkos, Fayette County Extension (M-G CAFE) 

Community/external collaborators: Wayne Brumfield, Fayette County Public Schools; Melanie Williamson, BCTC; Trever White, Toyota Motor NA 

Abstract: This proposal aims to create community-engaged STEM programs for younger generations (4th-12th graders) in Fayette County. We aim to foster leadership development and service through hands-on STEM activities that prepare and empower participating students for the industry and workforce of the future, mentored by industry partners. 

Together We Can 

Project lead(s): Maria Cahill, College of Communication and Information 

Campus collaborators: Rachel Guidguli and Kimbery Schrader, M-G CAFE 4-H Youth Development 

Community/external collaborators: Amy Olson, Kentucky Dept of Libraries and Archives 

Abstract: Across the 120 counties in Kentucky, the Cooperative Extension Service Family and Consumer Science and 4-H youth development agents are supporting the quality of individual and family life. At the same time, library staff provide resources, services, and programs that empower and motivate children and youth to achieve personal growth and academic success. Nevertheless, across the Commonwealth, nearly one-third of all children have one or more emotional, behavioral, or developmental conditions, less than half enter kindergarten fully ready, less than one-third are proficient in reading at 4th grade, and only 21% are proficient in math at 8th grade1. 

Equipping Extension Professionals 

Project lead(s): Heather Norman-Burgdolf, M-G CAFE 

Campus collaborators: Jeannie Najor, M-G CAFE FCS Extension; Nancy Savage, Human Development Institute 

Abstract: This project establishes a guidebook and training for Extension professionals to implement equitable and inclusive nutrition education. The proposed activities directly support community vitality, health, and wellness. This project enhances university engagement bringing together Cooperative Extension and the Human Development Institute. Across Kentucky, project activities increase Extension’s engagement within communitites. 

Appalachia Corps 

Project lead(s): Kathryn Engle, UK Appalachian Center 

Campus collaborators: Daniel Wilson, M-G CAFE Ext Admin 

Abstract: AppalachiaCorps is a student internship program through the UK Appalachian Center that pairs students with opportunities for experiential learning in eastern Kentucky and the greater Appalachian region. AppalachiaCorps serves a three-fold purpose: 

• providing students with unique work and learning opportunities 

• strengthening UK’s land-grant commitment to the Appalachian region 

• building capacity and networks of relationships between Appalachian organizations 

Growing Our Own 

Project lead(s): Melody Flowers, UK Economic Development Collaborative 

Campus collaborators: Kristina Joyce, SBDC; Laura Stephenson, M-G CAFE Extension; Barry Swanson, UK Purchasing; Marilyn Clark, UK Purchasing; George Ward, UK Economic Development and Real Estate 

Community/external collaborators: Nancy Brown, Ky APEX Accelerator; Tyrone Tyra, Commerce Lexington 

Abstract: This project aligns with the UK Engage Priority 3—Community Vitality and Economic Development--Business training in targeted communities, women owned, veteran owned, and minority owned businesses will allow us to grow our own base of sustainable businesses, increase the economic viability of each county and fulfill our mission to Advance Kentucky. 

Building Community of Practice 

Project lead(s): Nicole Breazeale, M-G CAFE CLD; Margaret McGladrey, College of Public Health 

Community/external collaborators: Kristen Cerelli, outside consultant; Michelle Howell, Need More Acres Farm 

Abstract: We propose to build a CoP with UK scholars, Cooperative Extension, health departments, community developers, and social services and arts-based organizations to strengthen engagement practice through storytelling, which aligns with all six UK Engage priority areas by developing workforce capacity to lead community-engaged health, economic development, and youth leadership projects. 

2024 Project Teams