Community Connection: Purdue Extension – Johnson County
by Erin Smith
From identifying creepy crawly bugs to orchestrating programming for thousands of 4-H’ers, Purdue Extension – Johnson County (PEJC) is transforming lives and livelihoods through research-based education right here in our county.
Having the resources of Purdue University at their fingertips enables PEJC to provide sought-after programs like Master Gardener and Master Food Preserver Training. The latter is provided during a one-week class that attracts folks from all over the Midwest. Executive Director Linda Souchon teaches it. Under Linda’s leadership, staff and volunteers made over 300,000 contacts through direct programming and indirect outreach (newsletters, Facebook and website) during the 2012-2013 year. I was surprised by the value of volunteer hours this organization provides to our community: a whopping 17,560 hours valued at $388,777. Impressive!
PEJC’s website provides updates on the Emerald Ash Borer, aquaponics, renewable energy links and much more! Constant assessment of community needs allows PEJC to be proactive. The new alternative school calendar year uncovered the need for safe and innovative learning opportunities while Mom and Dad have to work. In partnership with the Indiana FFA Leadership Center, camps will be offered during fall and spring breaks. To register, call the Leadership Center at 317-878-4570 or visit indianaffa.org/leadershipcenter for more details.
Meet 4-H lifer, Lindsey Summers. A current Purdue student, Lindsey loves every aspect of 4-H and has developed essential leadership skills over the past 10 years. “You don’t have to necessarily be an aggressive person to be a leader. You can be yourself and help others without needing to control them. I learned a leader means to be someone others can look up to as a role model.”
Her role as a junior leader and ambassador taught her time management skills and influenced her perspective on just about everything. Lindsey’s contribution to our community has already been great, but even more refreshing is her belief that “everyone has different opinions and ideas. If we don’t take into account their thoughts, we will never be smarter or stronger than ourselves.” Now that is a wise leader beyond her years!
4-H Program Director Ashley Schultz was particularly proud of Lindsey and indicates it is very common to see youth blossom through 4-H programs. She also set me straight on what you can expect from programming in the new millennium: “Today’s 4-H programming is nothing like your parent’s 4-H days!” Although kids still win awards for produce, steer, pigs and pies, many new categories have been developed like recycled crafts, Lego builders and photography which is the most popular.
Carolyn Clow, Secretary
Jennifer Crawhorn, Rector
Brad Faris, President
Bill Richardson, Vice President
1. Board Members
2. Volunteer Trainers for Captain Cash Program
3. Storage Barn 10’ x 12’ for Summer Garden Camp
1. The US is the largest producer and exporter of soybeans. In Johnson County, we harvest 52,909 acres! – USDA’s Economic Research Center
2. In 1882, the average American consumed 45 grams of sugar over five days. In 2012, the number is 765 grams. That is 191 ¼ tsps. of sugar every five days!
Erin Smith is President of Spotlight Strategies, a well-known print, apparel, and promotional products firm. Considered an elite woman in business, Erin has won prestigious awards and been given high honors for excellence in business and community leadership. She has established herself as a difference-maker in the areas of women’s leadership and community philanthropy throughout the Midwest.