Madison Living - Kentucky Winter 2018 - Page 27

Cattlemen program, Master Grazer program, inland out-of-state beef tours and winter meetings. Being one of the top five producers of cattle in the state means Sears has much to keep him busy. Throughout the year, Sears provides live demonstrations, either at the extension office or Eastern Kentucky University’s Meadowbrook Farm. Sears said they like to have a field day with demonstrations and educational materials so farmers can see first hand how things are done. One of the most common things Sears is asked to do is perform free soil testing for crop, forage and grasses. The agriculture leg of the extension office also provides beef quality assurance certification, private pesticide applicator certification and plant and animal disease diagnosis. The information that Sears is able to pass along to Madison County’s farmers is researched-based and provides it free of cost. “We’re not trying to sell a service or a product, so we kind of hang our hat on that unbiased research- based information and a good, sound perspective,” Sears said. “I think it’s important to continue as a free service, because if we had to start charging, the ability to provide our services would be drastically reduced.” Horticulture Amanda Sears, horticulture agent, is accessible to Madison County residents for all of their horticulture needs. One of the biggest things she is able to provide, like Brandon, is free soil testing. Everything from lawns to gardens to trees, Sears said she can do it all. Sears can also provide insect, plant and weed identification. “I can also help people know how to get rid of a groundhog. I can’t come and get it for them, but I can tell them how to get rid of it and keep it from coming back,” Sears said. “I’m tentative to say wildlife control, but I can help them with wildlife problems.” Sears said the help that she can give caters to homeowners, but she also can assist with commercial property and, within their first year, 40 hours of community service. Some of the community service has included helping recovering women at Liberty Place build and grow their own garden as part of their recovery. Family and consumer science Amanda Sears, Madison County Cooperative Extension agent, shows off a canna plant that, while beautiful, would need to be wintered indoors. as well. If it’s in Madison County, no horticulture problem is too big or too small. For Sears, being able to provide her knowledge and services is vital in a time where a simple Google search can provide thousands of answers at just a click of a mouse. “Right now, there is so much information out there, but so much of it either isn’t correct or it might not be right for our area,” Sears said. Adams said that’s the great thing about their partnership with the University of Kentucky for information because it is all researched-based information. One of the most popular programs in the horticulture area is the Master Gardeners. Master Gardeners is one of the few programs that requires a membership fee, which is $100, but provides the new gardener with plenty of books and resources in return. Sears said the group meets once a month to do educational work and outreach. Currently, the group has 16-20 active members, who volunteer their time outside of the extension office. Members are required to do 12 weeks of educational material work The family and consumer science programs go beyond sewing and cooking classes. Adams said this particular leg of the extension office helps to provide a plethora of classes and services to all adults in Madison County. “These services are not just for your traditional homemaker, but for all family leaders which includes any person — whether they have children, are single, own a home, rent a home — there is all sorts of those life skill classes that people are getting into adulthood and not knowing about,” Adams said. Classes and workshops provided by the family and consumer science program include everything from food preservation, sewing and cooking, to financial management, travel safety and tips, and managing debt. Adams said the programs try to stay up to date with the latest technology as possible, citing new cooking items such as the Instapot and air fryer. “The programs offer any life skill you can think of,” she said. “We have all sorts of things for people. It’s not just an infomercial about a product, it’s research-based information to help them out.” One group within the family and consumer science program is the Homemakers. The Homemakers is a membership-based program with an $8 membership fee, but part of that fee goes directly toward ovarian cancer research, while the rest is split between the state level of Homemakers and the Madison County branch, which supplements their budget for the year. Adams said the Homemakers are most known for their care bear project, where they make teddy bears to deliver to children in area hospitals. Continued on page 28 WINTER 2018 Madison Living 27