LEXINGTON/PRINCETON, Ky. (UK Public Relations) – Amid the utter destruction caused by the December 11 tornado outbreak (click to view video), University of Kentucky employees continue to do pressure,
offering help where and when their fellow Kentucky people need it most.
The UK Research and Education Center in Princeton was directly hit (click to view images) by the powerful tornado that started in northwestern Arkansas and carved a path of destruction through the western half of Kentucky. UKREC staff, led by director Carrie Knott, worked throughout the weekend, securing and caring for the animals, assessing the damage and offering support.
“Our hometown heroes of hope – our teachers, staff and extension workers in our communities across western Kentucky stepped up to help others even as we faced damage to UK facilities criticism in western Kentucky,” British President Eli Capilouto said. “As the University of Kentucky, we understand how important the faculty and staff of the UK Center for Research and Education and the Cooperative Extension Service are in relaying educational information to their communities. We are committed to rebuilding, to helping the region recover and emerge stronger than before.
“The center is home to a very dedicated group of British staff, and I commend Dr Knott and his staff for their heroic weekend recovery efforts,” said Nancy Cox, Dean of the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment and UK Vice President for Land Grant Commitment. “Although the center may not be the same for some time, the college is committed to helping our employees and our communities recover from these devastating events and to serving the western Kentucky farming community.”
While the physical structure that housed UKREC is gone, the center has been and always will be vital to Kentucky agriculture. As a testament to the centre’s importance to the state’s agricultural industry, two temporary office buildings and two temporary storage buildings will be placed on site on December 14 for UKREC staff.
“The outpouring of community support has been very humble for us,” Knott said. “We are not closing our doors, but we will look a little different and we will be a little more fragmented at least in the near future.”
Due to the amount of debris, officials are asking the public to stay away from the center as the area is unsafe and structurally unsanitary.
The center was established in 1925 on nearly 1,300 acres about a mile from downtown Princeton. In 1980 the Rottgering-Kuegel Agricultural and Extension Building was added and housed the center’s approximately 50 employees and hosted countless extension and zone meetings. This facility has undergone a major refurbishment and addition to house the UK Grain and Forage Center of Excellence, which opened in 2019. Since its inception, many stakeholders have provided strong support to the center and essential funding for many of its improvements.
“Kentucky’s farming community is a strong community. It’s a caring and giving community,” said Chad Lee, director of the Grain and Forage Center of Excellence. “We will be relying heavily on them to help us through this ordeal as we work to rebuild. Our hearts are broken but not our minds.
Over the years, scientists at the center have conducted many important research projects, including numerous no-till research projects, precision farming application studies, and a breakthrough in soil fragipan research. The Centre’s specialists have been the go-to resource for farmers in the region for research-based information in agronomy, forages, beef management, disease control, pest control, precision agriculture, grain storage systems , soil fertility and grain marketing.
Many counties are dealing with the aftermath of destructive tornadoes. The UK Cooperative Extension Service works diligently with organizations in the region to meet the needs of tornado victims.
Extension has partnered with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture to offer support to affected farmers. Those wishing to donate agricultural supplies should contact their local extension office. Extension officers will deliver the products to KDA for distribution to farmer organizations working to meet the needs of affected farmers.
Kentucky 4-H has a 4-H’ers Relief Fund Helping 4-H’ers https://kentucky4hfoundation.org/relief-fund/ which collects donations to help affected 4-H members, families and staff.
The Kentucky Division of Emergency Management is also accepting donations and volunteer requests for relief efforts. Individuals can offer to donate supplies or apply to volunteer at https://arcg.is/8aqnO.
The Kentucky Department of Agriculture has partnered with the Kentucky Farm Bureau to develop a GoFundMe account at https://gofund.me/6855c668 provide financial support to affected farmers. Donations are tax deductible.
People wishing to donate money to victims of the tornado can do so by donating through the UK Office of Philanthropy at https://uky.networkforgood.com/causes/9900-cafe-annual-discretionary-fund. Individuals can donate to help affected UK students https://uky.networkforgood.com/causes/10124-basic-needs-and-persistence-fund. The UK also offers the CRISIS (Crisis Relief in Situations Involving Staff and Faculty) program to help UK employees with personal difficulties. UK faculty and staff can request assistance from https://staffsenate.uky.edu/crisis.
Individuals can also send checks with a comment to support UK CAFE Tornado Relief to UK Philanthropy, PO Box 23552, Lexington, KY 40523.