By  December 18, 2020 - 2:04pm

A new year will bring implementation of Extension’s new administrative structure with the hiring of twelve Area Extension Directors. The new structure is designed to increase mentoring for Extension field staff, support broad based programming inclusive of all audiences, enhance accountability, and strengthen linkages to and engagement with local leadership.

The twelve Area Extension Directors will provide county-focused supervision and oversight, each serving two of Extension’s twenty-four new areas. Through an engaged, fully virtual hiring process conducted throughout the fall, the twelve individuals listed below were selected to serve in these vital positions. Each brings to the position significant Extension experience and a skillset suited to their new positions.

East Region

East 1 and 2 – Jeffery Casada grew up in a small community in Pulaski County, Kentucky, where he helped family in tobacco and hay. He has 29 years of Extension experience serving as the Extension Agent for Agriculture and Natural Resources in Clay County. Prior to his career in Extension, Jeff served three years in active duty in the United States Army and he has maintained a second career in the Kentucky Army National Guard/US Army, culminating in the rank of Colonel.

East 3 and 4 – Judith O’Bryan started her Extension career in Campbell County as a County Extension Agent for Family and Consumer Sciences. After eight years in Campbell County, she transferred to Laurel County in 1998. She has provided a needs-driven county wide program that strives to improve the well-being of families. Judi is very involved in her professional association and just recently completed a term as President of the Kentucky Extension Association of Family & Consumer Sciences.

East 5 and 6 – Ty Back began his career with the University of Kentucky in horticulture research.  He served as 4-H Youth Development Agent in Magoffin and Breathitt Counties between 2004 and 2012, then transitioned to Agriculture and Natural Resources Agent in Breathitt County.  In 2017, Ty was hired as Kentucky’s first Fiscal Compliance Officer for Extension Business Operations.  He has played a key part in the transition to QuickBooks Online, employee travel reimbursement trainings and policy revisions for the Cooperative Extension Service.

East 7 and 8 – Raven Ford has served as the Rowan County Extension Agent for 4-H Youth Development for 19 years. She started her career in Extension knowing no one in the Rowan County area and focused early efforts on relationship building. Those relationships served as a springboard for her and made it possible for her to set county program records. Her relationship building skills have enabled her to hold leadership roles locally and at the district and state levels.

Central Region

Central 1 and 2 – Lisa Adams began her Extension career in 2001 as a 4-H Youth Development Agent in Fayette County. She transferred to Madison County in 2006 where she continued to serve as a 4-H Youth Development Agent until she accepted the position as County Manager in 2018. She is an experienced Extension mentor, has been a member of state and national professional development associations, and served on district and state-level committees and advisory councils.

Central 3 and 4 – Jennifer Cocanougher began her Extension career in 1985 serving as 4-H Youth Development Agent in Casey. In 1988, she transferred to Spencer County in the same capacity. From 1995 to 2001, she served as an Extension Associate for Environmental and Natural Resources Issues. From 2001 to 2014, she was 4-H Youth Development Agent in Woodford County. She accepted the position as Extension District Director for District 4 in 2014, providing administrative leadership to the 17 counties in central Kentucky.

Central 5 and 6 – Willie Howard was named District Director for District 3 in May 2016. In this capacity, he has provided management and leadership in the 15-county district that includes more than 150 Extension agents, program assistants and staff. As a District Director, he oversaw county office operations and procedures to ensure program effectiveness and efficiency. Prior to this position, he served 24 years as a 4-H Youth Development Agent in Fulton and Jefferson Counties.

Central 7 and 8 – Mike Meyer has been an Extension Agent for the past 12 years.  He continues to gain experience in both urban and rural communities, serving in Franklin and Harrison Counties.  He recently served as President of KAE4-HA and Harrison County Farm Bureau. He brings added experience on multiple hiring committees for both local and state level Extension positions.  Mike believes in the value of Cooperative Extension to our communities and is excited to strengthen campus and county collaborations.

West Region

West 1 and 2 – Robert Tashjian joined Cooperative Extension as 4-H Youth Development Agent in McCracken County in 1997. As facilities coordinator, he led the five-year building process of the 30,000 square foot McCracken County Extension Office, gaining experience in project management. In 2018, he transitioned to the position of County Manager for McCracken County. In this role, he has provided leadership for the county office, supervised 13-15 employees, oversaw a $2.7 million annual budget, and coordinated hiring of eight employees.

West 3 and 4 – Matt Fulkerson became an Extension District Director in September 2009. Prior to that, he served as the Hopkins County Extension Agent for Horticulture. His duties as a District Director have included agent placement, personnel management, and development for the 17 westernmost counties in Kentucky. As a Horticulture Extension Agent, Matt provided leadership for the Hopkins County Farmers Market, the KDA Farmers Market Senior/WIC Program, the Hopkins County Ag Development Board, and the Hopkins County Master Gardener Program.

West 5 and 6 – Jeremy Teal served as 4-H Youth Development Agent in Hopkins County for more than 17 years. In 2018, he accepted the position as Business Analyst Senior for Extension Business Operations in the western region. Jeremy grew up in Extension and was extremely active in the 4-H program. His Extension experiences include program development and implementation, volunteer administration and training, facility and budget management, and personnel hiring, evaluation, and supervision.  He is currently serving as president of Epsilon Sigma Phi.

West 7 and 8 – David Herbst joined the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service in 1994 as Adair County Extension Agent for Agriculture and Natural Resources. In 2007, he was named Extension District 6 Director. In this capacity, he has provided administrative oversight and supervision for the 17-county district. Prior to joining Extension, David was heavily involved in the dairy industry, serving as Dairy Manager for the University of Florida and as owner/operator of a dairy farm in Kentucky.