By Deb Patterson
KOSCIUSKO COUNTY — The annual Kosciusko County Extension meeting was held virtually Monday evening focusing on highlights from the past year for extension and recognition of four extension “All Star” volunteers.
Caleb Lechlitner, Nappanee; Renea Messmore, Pierceton; Kassi Rowland, Leesburg; and Cathy Reed, Warsaw, were named the 2021 Extension All Stars, for their efforts last year in the 4-H program.
Lechlitner wanted to show people what the livestock projects were all about. With the help of family members, he put together a video “Behind the Barn Doors” highlighting 4-H’ers and their livestock experiences. This video was viewed 627 times by the end of the 4-H Livestock Auction.
Messmore wanted the 4-H’ers to have an opportunity to show their projects. She met numerous times with health and extension officials to come up with the means for this to happen. Her dedication allowed more than 400 4-H’ers to show their projects and highlight the 4-H program.
Rowland helped 262 4-H’ers be successful with the online auction. She helped coordinate photos and videos from the participants, uploaded the photos and videos to the site to view during the auction and monitored the site. Her efforts were recognized by others as the event ran smoothly showcasing the youth.
Reed, who is secretary of the dairy committee, was recognized for her work in promoting the dairy project through photography. Her photographs taken of experiences of not only her son, but others in dairy, showed the experience received and promoted how the dairy project impacted the 4-H’ers.
The annual meeting additionally provided highlights from extension educators. Jackie Franks highlighted the year in the area of health and human sciences. Franks noted she served 1,000 more persons in 2020 than 2019 due to the various virtual opportunities. She pointed out the use of social media campaigns for programs and more interest in extension programs going virtual.
Updates were also provided by Sue Martin regarding extension homemakers, Nathan Miller, community wellness coordinator and Tamara Boggs, STEM director and 4-H assistant. Boggs noted the creation of a new club at the YMCA bringing in 50 new 4-H’ers. She also noted some of the programs.
Kelly Heckaman, county extension director, presented the challenges extension faced and what works best. “We were no longer limited to our county boundaries,” she stated.
Virtual programs provided access to more educational programs than what could be offered in person, and a lot of people took the opportunity to learn from the comforts of their own homes. Plus nothing had to be cancelled due to weather. She additionally noted meetings were more efficient and had higher attendance.
“This is a little different than the annual meeting you are all used to, but, as life throws us curve balls we learn to adjust and overcome, just like the entire extension program has the last year with COVID and all that fun stuff,” stated Tyler Boganwright, county extension board president. He will be going off the board after six years.
There were approximately 80 people registered for the annual meeting, but due to some technical difficulties approximately 47 people participated. The meeting ended with door prize giveaways from numerous sponsors ranging from gift cards to gift baskets and frozen chicken.