Text and Photos
By DEB PATTERSON
GOSHEN — Dan Carlson, Goshen, and Deb Pepple, Elkhart were named the 2023 Friend of Extension Tuesday, Nov. 14. The recognition was made during the annual Purdue Extension Elkhart County Extension Board annual meeting.
The Friend of Extension Award is presented each year by the extension staff in recognition of individuals or businesses who go above and beyond to enhance Purdue Extension’s mission and vision.
Carlson is a gold-level Master Gardener who volunteers at the extension office during the summer on the Master Gardener Answer Line. He has served as president, vice president, treasurer and board member of the Michiana Master Gardeners Association, trained new volunteers for the answer line, helped set up Ag Hall for the county fair, has been a program speaker and serves on multiple committees.
Carlson has volunteered 1,535.5 hours, has served as plant director for the garden tours and tree sales among other activities.
Pepple has a long history with Purdue Extension through the extension homemaker program and has called herself a professional volunteer. She has volunteered as director of Home and Family Arts during the county fair, served as president of the county extension homemakers association, and has held many offices within her club.
She is currently serving on the Health and Human Sciences Advisory Board. Her involvement in the community allows her to share the value extension holds when it comes to education in all program areas.
In addition to the Friend of Extension Award, retiring board members: Dan Hummell, Elkhart; Jeff Kitson, Milford; and Regina Morehouse, New Paris, were recognized for their six years of service.
Additionally, council members elected five board members to the 15-member board. Reelected were Joel Holsopple, Millersburg and Kathy Overholt, Elkhart. Elected to their first term were Carlson, Pepple and Mary Kay Longacre, Goshen.
The program for the evening included highlights of the past year by the extension educators.
Robby Kelly, county extension director, presented a few numbers from 2023. He noted the 686 4-H adult volunteers provided a $1.1 million value to the community in their efforts. Other statistics he noted were 179 extension homemakers, 120 master gardeners and the total 4-H enrollment was at 2,866, up 2% from the previous year.
Additionally, he highlighted there were 230 educational events, 7,243 direct contacts, 360 teaching hours, 5,923 incoming phone calls and 2,273 walk-in clients.
The program he highlighted was career development with 50 4-H’ers participating at state and area levels. The program increases youth knowledge on a variety of subjects in a competitive format. Events included Milk Quality and Products, Livestock Skillathon, Horse Bowl and Hippology, Horse judging and Dairy Cattle Evaluation.
Crystal VanPelt, Ag & Natural Resources, Plants educator, highlighted the master gardeners program and the Elkhart Airport Community Garden. The garden donated 237 pounds of produce to the Church Community services Seed to Feed program.
Emily Christ, health and human sciences educator, focused on the Dining with Diabetes program and the need for diabetes education. She highlighted several of the Dining with Diabetes programs held.
Lindsey Caterina, community wellness coordinator, went over several community programs offered to assist low income families.
Corey Sharp, 4-H Youth Development educator, focused on the robotics program that was started just before the fair that will be converting into a club.
Those attending were also encouraged to take part in the Purdue Broadband initiative to expand broadband service in the area.
The annual meeting was held on the 4-H Fairgrounds in Goshen. There were 67 people in attendance to celebrate the accomplishments of Purdue Extension Elkhart County.