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News and Media

Bertha Mendoza Recognized for KHLAAC Leadership

Last week, the Kansas Hispanic & Latino American Affairs Commission (KHLAAC) elected its Chairperson, Ernestor de la Rosa, Assistant City Manager for Dodge City, and it extended appreciation to outgoing KHLAAC Chairperson Bertha Mendoza of Garden City. Bertha Mendoza is a nutrition educator with the SW Region Research - Extension Center.

KHLAAC is a seven member commission appointed by the Governor which serves as a liaison for the Kansas Hispanic & Latino community and the Office of the Governor. Under Mendoza’s leadership, the commission strengthened its efforts to build broad-based coalitions among Latino communities. KHLAAC, represents the largest ethnic minority population in Kansas and promotes policy work in areas of education, health, and business.

Aguilar receives national award for extension and outreach

Jonathan Aguilar, associate professor at K-State's Southwest Research Extension Center in Garden City, has received the Mid-Career Award for Extension/Outreach/Engagement from the Universities Council on Water Resources.

The award recognizes outstanding contributions through extension, outreach and engagement activities related to water. He will be formally recognized at the UCOWR annual conference in June 2021.

"I am honored and humbled to receive this award, and I accept it on behalf of the farmers who are working to conserve water resources while still feeding so many, both here and abroad," Aguilar said.

Aguilar specializes in water resource issues, particularly as they pertain to the irrigated agriculture in western Kansas. His extension and research programs are focused on crop water allocation, irrigation scheduling and management tools, and irrigation technologies like mobile drip irrigation and subsurface drip irrigation.

"Dr. Aguilar is very deserving of this national award," said Daniel Devlin, interim head of the Western Kansas Research and Extension Centers and director of the Kansas Center for Agricultural Resources and the Environment. "His commitment and irrigation expertise are known throughout the state, the region and the country, and we're fortunate to have him here in Kansas." 

The Universities Council on Water Resources is a consortium of more than 65 academic institutions invested in water resources research, education and outreach, seeking to expand the capacity of universities and their partners to address current water resource challenges through leadership, partnership and collaboration.

Lessons Learned: Kansas 4-H Looks Back at Pandemic Challenges

A Kansas 4-H official said that a survey taken during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has given the state’s largest youth organization a pretty clear idea of how it can continue to serve members and their families in good times and bad.

Amy Sollock, a 4-H youth development specialist in southwest Kansas, said the survey indicated that stay-at-home orders actually helped to boost involvement in some areas.

“Our families travel long distances, especially in some of our rural counties,” she said. “So when there were scheduling challenges before, they may have had to miss a meeting. During the pandemic, it was a little easier for them to hop online from their own home.

“That was a benefit of holding some of our activities virtually. Some clubs had increased attendance and participation because of that.”

But Sollock added that the internet also became limiting when services were spotty or non-existent – both in rural and urban areas.

“We found out that it doesn’t matter where you live across the state,” she said. “Internet and a strong Wi-Fi signal continue to be a challenge that we are continuing to try to overcome.”

Knowing the challenges and opportunities, Sollock said Kansas 4-H agents developed creative ways to keep their local programs going.

“We had some really innovative agents and volunteers across the state who rose to the challenge with such things as mailing out materials, developing ‘Camp in a Box’ or ‘meeting in a box…” she said. “Some clubs met in parking lots and everybody stayed in the bed of a pickup or the back of their car. They found ways to maintain the connectedness that 4-H clubs provide for our kids.”

In mid-summer, many 4-H activities moved back to some level of in-person contact, but Sollock said the organization is not forgetting its lessons learned.

“We will be prepared if we have to transition back to (stay-at-home) activities,” she said. “We hope we don’t have to do that because we know that meeting in person is optimum. But if we find ourselves in the situation where we have to meet as a club or project group virtually, we know that we can do that and do it well.”

The new 4-H year begins October 1, and signup is available through the local extension office. Sollock said registration is open anytime; there is no deadline for youth to join their local 4-H club.

“I’m a parent myself, and I know that a lot of parents out there have dealt with a lot of uncertainty in this changing atmosphere,” she said. “With many things up in the air, I just want to reassure parents that Kansas 4-H is committed to young leaders. We will continue to deliver safe and positive learning experiences no matter what it looks like, whether we can continue to do it in person or go back to doing it virtually.

“We are going to be here for the young people of Kansas and their families.”

Learn more about Kansas 4-H programs online.

Kansas 4-H Launches Communications Project

Kansas 4-H, the state’s largest youth organization group with more than 70,000 members, has announced plans to offer a communications project.

In addition to helping youth hone their public speaking skills, the project will help youth understand non-verbal cues, written communication skills, empathy and how to navigate difficult conversations.

“Those are all good communication skills that kids will use on the job, in college or later in life,” said Amy Sollock, a 4-H youth development specialist in southwest Kansas. “We want to make sure they are equipped with those skills.”

For more information or to sign up, youth can contact their local Extension agent or visit Kansas 4-H online.


K-State launches website with COVID-19 experts, news releases
April 10, 2020
Kansas State University is actively involved in the fight against COVID-19, including research projects, outreach efforts and faculty experts. The university has launched a website resource with news releases and expert sources organized by topic.


In-person K-State Research and Extension activities suspended through July 4
April 10, 2020
K-State Research and Extension will continue its suspension of all face-to-face extension programs, meetings and events through July 4. This includes several 4-H Youth Development events, including camps and Discovery Days.


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August 26
Southwest Research-Extension Center, Garden City KS

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