Boone County, Kentucky, University of Kentucky

Boone County Cooperative Extension Services

How Boone County CES is positioned at the national, state, regional, and city levels:

Demographic Categories Kentucky Statewide
Black/African: 7.98%
Asian: 1.35%
White: 87.3%
Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander: 0.05%
Native Alaskan/Native American: 0.21%
Two or more races: 2.18%
Other race: 0.93%
Median age: 38.6
Total Population: 4,484,047

As a part of the greater Cincinnati Metro community, Boone County’s population is currently over 130,000, with a mix of urban, suburban and rural populations.

To remain engaged, agents and support staff plan events and programs that address a mix of traditional programming while offering new and innovative lineups to address the broader needs of a growing urban community.

Agents and staff offer geographically-dispersed programs to accommodate transportation limitations of some residents and also plan events and programs that draw people to one of several Boone County Extension facilities (listed below).

    • CES Administrative Building – staff offices, meeting facilities
    • CES Enrichment Center – food demonstration kitchen, general project/demonstrations, large events
    • Farmers Market – located on CES property
    • Arboretum – a partnership with local government. The land is owned by the county, and CES provides funding for staff, plant materials and maintenance.
    • Extension Environmental Education and Nature Center – a 120-acre farm that has been developed into a nature preserve.

How Boone County CES address the multitude of issues and priorities in their community through educational programming:

Boone County CES and their managing Board of Directors own, manage and/or support a diverse set of properties and facilities that serve the communities through the creation of educational programming that is multidisciplinary and relevant to urban issues, as described below.

The CES Administrative Building is the current location’s original facility. Built more than 25 years ago, it has undergone several renovations to increase space and upgrade technologies. It consists of agents and support staff offices, meeting facilities and is also home to Natural Resource and Soil Conservation District Offices.

The CES Enrichment Center was completed in 2015. It is a state-of-the-art facility food processing/cooking demonstration kitchen, complete with 14 training kitchens and able to accommodate approximately 75 people. The Center also has conference facilities that can accommodate up to 700 people, and is widely utilized by many other community and local government groups and non-profit organizations.

The Boone County Farmers Market is located on CES property and has been voted ‘Best Farmers Market’ in Northern Kentucky for eight consecutive years by Northern KY Magazine. In 2018, growers reported sales of $ 1.1 million, making it the second largest farmer’s market (FM) in the state. The FM involves approximately fifty producers and is very customer-focused.  CES employs a dedicated staff member whose job is to “market” the market, which is also promoted regularly in the local media.

In addition, there are weekly events at the FM featuring local chefs and Extension agents, who demonstrate how to prepare the food that is available onsite. Local live bands and music provide a festive atmosphere every Saturday morning during the growing season. Live radio promotions, car shows and a Community Activities Fair onsite are all designed to expose new audiences to the FM and also to other programs, events and services Extension has to offer.

The Boone County Arboretum is a partnership between CES and local government, which owns the land.  CES Horticulture initially envisioned the Arboretum as a location to research landscape plants and trees.  Local government approved the idea, and today the Arboretum is home to over five thousand varieties of landscaping plants and trees, which are enjoyed by thousands (casually each year) and hundreds more during formal Extension educational programs.   To sustain the facility, Boone County CES purchases all trees, plant materials and irrigation equipment, and also funds a portion of the curator position as well as seven seasonal maintenance staff salaries.  The Arboretum consistently ranks in the top five Arboretums in Kentucky based on educational programming and species grown.  In addition, the facility also offers a long-established youth sports facility. (See https://bcarboretum.org/)

The Extension Environmental Education and Nature Center, purchased in 2010, consists of one hundred twenty acres designed to serve as an environmental preserve, used to educate the community regarding wildlife and other natural resources. CES environmental education programs are multi-disciplinary, with thousands of youth and adults learning how to protect and enrich the local environment each year.

Boone County Master Gardeners assist the Center by maintaining demonstration plots of fruit and vegetable gardening, as well as a butterfly plot. The site also has a “High Tunnel” for demonstration purposes. Other demonstrations include: irrigation, plastic-culture, cut flowers, and research involving different mulching materials.

Annual Farm Tours (while not a new concept) continue to be an important method used to educate urban populations on the critical role that agriculture plays in our daily lives. In partnership with the Farm Bureau, Natural Resource and Conservation, and local government and producers, this timeless program continues to play an important education and community development function.

The Annual Farm Frenzy is host to over 2500 students, parents, community members. This event, located at the CES facility, provides youth and adults the opportunity to observe livestock, crops and farm equipment that are utilized on Boone County farms, as well as other local food system demonstrations.

The Boone County 4-H Fair celebrated its 76th anniversary in 2019. The fair is managed by a non-profit Board of Directors with close historical ties to CES. Approximately forty thousand people visit the Fair every year. Extension has a large presence and high visibility during this important community event.

Success by Six is a county-wide project emphasizing kindergarten readiness, and Boone is a top-ranked Kentucky county known for the same.  Partnerships exist between Boone County’s public libraries, public schools, the county government, United Way, and Extension.. all focused on preparing children for kindergarten.

How Boone County CES attracts, develops, retains, and structures competent talent:

Boone County CES has been a leader in pioneering new staffing positions and structures for Kentucky Extension. In Kentucky, most counties have a three-agent base staffing pattern, consisting of an Agriculture & Natural Resource Agent, Family and Consumer Sciences Agent and a 4-H Youth Development Agent.

Because of a growing and comprehensive staffing pattern and multiple facilities, Boone County CES became the first county in the state of Kentucky to embrace local county management. The “County Manager” supervises all agents and most support staff, manages facilities, serves as a contact with local officials and the Extension Board of Directors.

In Boone County, there is a highly staffed horticulture education program. This consists of a Horticulture Agent and three program assistants who respond to the constant flow of questions from citizens on plant- and tree-related insect and disease questions. The staff also provide species recommendations, planting instructions and design advice where requested.

The horticulture program also utilizes social media and video to market CES and to educate others interested in learning how to grow their own food.

Another non-traditional CES position is that of Environmental Education Agent. This position was created to help address the growing interest in protecting our natural resources. Utilizing the CES Environmental and Nature Center (and in partnership with other community agencies) CES offers both overnight environmental camps (during the Fall for 5th grade students) and environmental day camps (during the spring for 4th grade students). Over 2000 youth attend one of these camps annually.

The Environmental Education Agent also works to provide wildlife, native plant, and related programming throughout the year to a variety of audiences.

The marketing and communication needs associated in a large staff, diverse programs and multiple facilities led to the creation of a support staff position to focus on the maintenance of office web presence, social media efforts, reporting, and marketing.

In addition, county-wide mass mailing is delivered to every household in the county twice annually, marketing classes, workshops and events offered by CES.

How Boone County CES collaborates to leverage resources for collective impact:

Living up to its name, the Boone County Cooperative Extension Service invests in broad urban networks, connections, and partnerships, collaborating with many other community agencies, non-profits and governmental units. Some examples include:

    1. Horticulture agent and assistants partner with the Northern Kentucky Forestry Collaborative to provide education certifications to employees of local arborists on a variety of forestry best practices.
    2. Kentucky CES and the Farm Bureau share an understanding of the important role that agriculture plays in the daily lives of all people, and have a long and fruitful partnership on several community projects and events.
    3. Public Libraries often partner with CES by hosting education programs for their patrons. Both CES and Libraries cross-advertise their programming.
    4. Senior and other community living centers partner with CES to provide educational and live lesson programs to their residents (this includes centers whose residents have physical and mental disabilities).
    5. CES has a long and successful history of partnership with local county and city governments. The county CES leadership regularly attends government meetings and maintains a positive, responsive and open line of communication with local officials.