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Leading Through Extension by Supporting Families: A Conversation with Kimberly Kopko

Kim Kopko

In the early days of Cornell University’s College of Human Ecology, Extension educators traveled around the state in demonstration trains to engage directly with families, especially farm wives, in their homes. Today, Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) Associate Director Kimberly Kopko is reimagining ways to meet families where they are with more portable parenting models that bring learning opportunities to spaces where families already get together including schools, community and health centers, and, when necessary, online.

The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the value of the adaptable and timely support that CCE educators provide for children and caregivers as they work through the complicated dynamics of family life.

In this episode of “Extension Out Loud,” Kopko introduces listeners to the history and evolution of the College of Human Ecology and how its mission to support New York state families has endured.

“Parenting, nutrition, child development, sewing, cooking -- everything that we do in our college now, you can kind of see the elements of it in our history," said Kopko. "We're still doing the work. We haven't really veered very far."

Under Kopko’s leadership, the College of Human Ecology oversees CCE’s statewide youth development, nutrition, and parenting programming.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has put a spotlight on many of the challenges and deficits that families face, Kopko is hopeful that our experiences and the lessons of the past year will help families, caregivers, and educators adapt to new and arising challenges in the future.

This conversation with Kopko is the fifth episode of the latest “Extension Out Loud” series, “Leading Through Extension,” which features key CCE voices discussing their approaches to extension work and how history – and this past tumultuous year — are shaping the organization’s path forward.

Listen to this and earlier episodes of Extension Out Loud on: 

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