Purdue Extension annual meeting

The Purdue Extension annual meeting was held virtually on Monday evening, Nov. 16.

Kyle Metzger, president of the board of directors, opened the meeting by nominating John Stoffel to the board. He will be replacing an open seat, as two members of the board are no longer able to serve because they have served the maximum of six years.

Ed Farris, agriculture and natural resources educator and county director, spoke next, and highlighted “a year of change in many ways.”

Farris said not only was COVID-19 a big shake up for the Extension offices, but there were many staffing changes as well.

Pre-COVID, he said he held farmer workshops that focused on risk management and followed up individually with farmers to offer consultation.

Post-COVID, he said the highlight was the Master Gardener’s garden tour that was safely offered with social distancing.

In the 1973 Purdue Extension annual report, Farris said he found a quote that stated, “Let us not look at our many obstacles… but, consider every problem an opportunity.”

He said that quote was a great way to sum up the challenges this year has brought, especially when it came to the Huntington County 4-H Fair.

JP Pietrowski, the new 4-H youth development coordinator, took over his position just as COVID-19 forced Hoosiers to hunker down at home.

He said his biggest and most obvious challenge was how to implement safety precautions and still do 4-H.

Pietrowski said everyone was willing to put in the extra mile to make the fair successful.

A positive side, he noted, was that with the live streaming of the 4-H events, made possible by partnership with Hunting-ton University, more than 23,000 viewers virtually at-tended the events, and the viewers were located across the nation.

He said he feels that shows the passion of Huntington County 4-H.

Other Purdue Extension programs were able to carry on by utilizing a virtual option as well.

Caroline Everidge, the health and human services educator, said she focused a lot on virtual learning in 2020.

Everidge entered her position in January 2020.

She said she will continue to focus on virtual programs that will be beneficial for our community.

Over the summer, she added, her “Virtual Victory Garden” and “Green Thumb Thursday” virtual offerings were very popular, and she hopes to con-tinue the trend.

The keynote speaker of the event was Huntington Mayor Richard Strick.

Strick spoke on behalf of his Addiction Recovery Task Force which he says aims to bridge the gap between knowledge and practice in regards to addiction recovery.

Strick says he wants to take what Huntington already has established and create a broad map of resources already present in the community.

“So many people are involved in recovery here,” he said.

The task force, which was developed at the beginning of the year, is six months behind schedule in meeting their goals, which is due to the coronavirus pandemic putting things to a stop earlier this year.

However, Strick says, he hopes that the survey report the task force is working on will be complete next month.

Kristen Spiegel, a licensed clinical social worker and addiction recovery counselor, who is on the task force, also spoke.

She said Huntington is seeing quite an improvement in services for those in recovery, but she said that is “because we were intentional.”

The key to keeping that momentum is to “continue being intentional as a community,” she added.

During the past year, stress and social isolation has made it hard on addicts and recovering addicts, alike, she said.

There has been an increase in alcohol sales, and sadly, an increase in overdose, she noted.

“Addiction has beaten and robbed to­o many families to let it go unchallenged any longer,” said Strick.

Strick said Purdue Extension is a “linkage between top notch research and Huntington County,” and he hopes that the Ex-tension offices will be able to aid the task force in the same way.

For more information about Purdue Extension visit extension.purdue.edu.