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Purdue Extension Welcomes New Leadership

Purdue University has named Julie Dean Jones the new County Extension Director for Lake County. 

Jones is an experienced Extension Educator and longtime resident of Northwest Indiana. As County Extension Director, she will support the local Extension team and lead efforts to deliver relevant, high-impact educational programming. 

“Purdue Extension Lake County is made up of people who have devoted their careers to educating our county residents and beyond,” said Kara Mackey, President of the Lake County Extension Board.  “Julie Jones is a smart, empathetic leader.  She’s a listener.  She’s thoughtful.  Her clear passion to improve the community is something she takes very seriously and we, on the Board, consider ourselves very lucky to have her at the helm of Extension.”

A graduate of Purdue University with a master’s degree from Indiana University, Jones has served as 4-H Youth Development Educator in Lake County for fifteen years.  Her work has received national recognition with awards for Distinguished Service and Excellence in Urban 4-H Programming.  She has recently served in interim roles in St. Joseph County and LaPorte County as well. 

Along with her new responsibilities as County Director, she will continue her 4-H youth development work with a focus on expanding partnerships with local schools.  A pilot program next fall at Banneker at Marquette Elementary School in Gary will bring 4-H public speaking and hands-on science activities to all students in grades 3-5 throughout the school year.  Lake County will also add another full-time 4-H position to the team, joining Jones and 4-H Youth Development Educator Jennifer Haynes. 

“It’s an exciting time for Lake County 4-H,” Jones said.  “Our traditional community club program is strong, we have a tremendous volunteer base ready to step up to new challenges, and we are expanding to reach new youth.”

Jones’ name will sound familiar to many in Northwest Indiana.  Her father, W. Dean Jones, served as Lake County Extension Director from 1983-2003.  Her family’s involvement meant that Jones has spent much of her life at 4-H youth events, board meetings, farm visits, trainings, and county fairgrounds.  “Those experiences have given me a deep appreciation for the impact of Extension and for the community relationships and local support that make this work possible,” Jones said. 

Purdue Extension links university research to learning opportunities in all 92 Indiana counties, with the goal of building vibrant communities, strong families, and profitable businesses. In addition to the 4-H Educators, the Lake County Extension Educator team includes Linda Curley, Health and Human Sciences; Rebecca Koetz, Urban Agriculture; and Lupe Valtierra, Community Development.  Erin Sherrow-Hayse and Amber Zimmer serve as Community Wellness Coordinators.  Learn more about Purdue Extension Lake County at https://extension.purdue.edu/county/lake/ or contact the office at 219-755-3240.  

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