Purdue Extension is Indiana’s educational partner for life, supporting Hoosiers during all of life’s moments. Follow along as we tell the stories of Purdue Extension’s impactful interactions and collaborations with Indiana communities.
For over a century, Purdue Extension has brought practical and relevant education to Hoosiers to enhance their lives and livelihoods. Extension specialists and educators serve as the link between Purdue research and Indiana citizens.
As a part of the Cooperative Extension Service, one of the nation’s largest providers of scientific, research-based information and education, Purdue Extension touches each stage of life, from critical childhood development in 4-H to finding solutions to challenges in agriculture to helping all families have the tools they need to be healthy.
Judy Katz, Lake County Ind., resident and Purdue Council for Agricultural Research, Extension, and Teaching (PCARET) President, was initially introduced to Purdue Extension through the Indiana 4-H Youth Development program. Since then Katz has taken many opportunities to use Purdue Extension as her educational partner in life.
“My Purdue Extension story began in grade school when my mother worked as a secretary at our county extension office and my parents were 4-H leaders. 4-H has been a part of my life ever since,” said Katz.
From building confidence through public speaking to participating in community service projects, Katz attributes the life skills learned in 4-H to helping her be successful. She was a 10-year 4-H member who showed horses at county and state fairs and was involved in the 4-H Junior Leader Program. Through this program, Katz was exposed to politics.
“I had the honor of being chosen along with seven other Junior Leaders from around our country to represent the U.S. at the Canadian National 4-H Conference in 1971. On this trip, we had the opportunity to meet and chat with Canada’s former Governor General Roland Michener.”
In 1972, she served as State Junior Leader representative at Indiana’s 4-H Roundup, an annual event hosted at Purdue University where youth explore a variety of careers by attending customized classes. During this event, she met and introduced Julie Nixon-Eisenhower, daughter of Richard Nixon, 37th President of the United States, and Purdue’s eighth president, Arthur Hansen. (Pictured: Judy Katz, Julie Nixon-Eisenhower and Purdue's former president, Arthur Hansen.)
“I believe these 4-H leadership connections ingrained in me the desire to one day become involved in political campaigns including my term as an elected school board member for my community’s school corporation and most recently I assisted with the campaign of a successful U.S. Congress candidate.”
Now, almost 50 years later, Katz not only continues to be involved in 4-H in Lake County, she also seeks to share and lead Purdue Extension in her community and the state. She credits her 4-H experiences to leading her to many speaking opportunities at local organizations including Rotary, Kiwanis and numerous radio shows.
“Besides my involvement with the 4-H program as a member, parent, and now a leader for 27 years, I have had a fulfilling experience serving on the Purdue Lake County Extension Board of Directors. Being on this board helped me learn all that Purdue Extension offers our county citizens through the different program areas. These experiences led me to become involved with PCARET. I have since participated in contacting local, state, and national legislators to explain the importance of Purdue’s Agricultural programs and, of course, Extension.”
Katz strongly believes that because of Extension’s diverse presence in all 92 Indiana counties all Indiana citizens can be helped by Extension whether they live in rural or urban communities. As communities evolve, she knows from experience that Extension will also change. In Lake County, she witnessed as educators worked to provide more urban gardening resources instead of traditional rural farming resources.
“Purdue Extension educates communities and individuals beyond the classroom setting, using research-based education. In the future as during the past century, extension will continue to be aware of the needs of our communities and adapt programming to better service those needs.”