By  March 26, 2020 - 9:29am

Dear CAFE Community, Alumni, Partners and Friends

During these uncertain times, be assured that at the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment we continue to work every day to bring answers and stability to our students, families farms, forests and communities across the Commonwealth.

Throughout our more than 150-year history, as our states and nation faced imposing challenges and strife, scientists at land grant universities have responded. We have survived and ultimately thrived through the ages. We’ve endured and helped families and farmers through the aftermath of the Civil War, World War I and World War II, the Great Depression, floods and droughts and recessions.

We are doing that again today with the unique challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Faculty in the college are working diligently to provide innovative, online instruction for our students. We have talented faculty recognized by their students and peers for their outstanding work. While the mode of delivery may be different, these dedicated teachers will ensure that their students get the information and assistance they need to thrive in their education.

Researchers continue to manage labs, fields and barns to safeguard our food supply and protect our water, soils and environment, although we are practicing the necessary precautions of social distancing and sanitizing in this new environment. Our researchers test technologies and practices that may or may not work out. As always, we take the risk. We invest our time, equipment, and resources, so we can advise farmers on the things that work best and keeps them from having to take that risk themselves.

Agriculture has been listed as critical infrastructure by federal and state government Food production in Kentucky is entering the growing season. Extension specialists and agriculture and natural resources agents are using online tools to reach local producers and direct marketers. We continue to do the work every day for our growers, so they have all the tools needed entering this critical time.

Our Extension agents are finding creative ways to help families, businesses and communities cope with the stress, isolation and financial uncertainties in the face of this international crisis. We are using the latest technologies and social media to stay in contact with our community members while also using the tried and true.

4-H agents across the state have made more than 4,000 "brown bag kits" for activities that parents can safely pick up and take home. Others are using the postal service to deliver packets to families for support. Family and Consumer Sciences Extension has ramped up online learning opportunities. Examples include “Understanding Social Distancing” and “Importance of Family Routines.” The response has been staggering, on average remote programming is reaching in excess of 5,000 per topic, with the reach continuing to grow daily.

We continue to collaborate across campus and with industry. Our researchers have worked with their colleagues around UK to help businesses make hand sanitizer then taken the additional step to deliver it to needed health facilities. Our labs are diverting some of their supplies to help their colleagues in UK health care.

Most of our staff have transitioned to working remotely but still are “here” is assist our college and our communities and continue to provide the important work of keeping our college open for business.

We continue to serve our land grant missions every day. Together, we will get through this.