Making connections: New extension educator focuses on new technology, emerging crops

Cora Carter is the new extension educator for the Bartholomew County Purdue Extension Office. She is pictured at the Bartholomew County Purdue Extension Office in Columbus, Ind., Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2019. Mike Wolanin | The Republic

A new Bartholomew County Purdue Extension educator has been chosen after an eight-month search.

Cora Carter began her new duties in Columbus as Agriculture, Natural Resources and Community Development Extension Educator on Aug. 5.

A native of Salem, the 27-year-old Carter succeeds Kris Medic, who held the educator position from 2013 until her retirement last December.

When asked about her new job, Carter quoted a colleague who told her the ‘bread-and-butter’ of being an extension educator is to engage in face-to-face interactions with others.

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“What excites me the most about this job is being able to connect people with things they might not have thought of before,” Carter said. “I’m really interested in new technologies, new emerging crops, and even new ways to grow traditional crops.”

Speaking of emerging crops, Carter said she now has sufficient knowledge to discuss industrial hemp production with local farmers after spending a day focused exclusively on that topic with Purdue experts.

State lawmakers are taking steps toward legalizing industrial hemp, which experts say has 22,000 different uses ranging from textiles and shoes to bioplastics and biofuel.

Before her retirement, Medic earned a reputation as a facilitator who could keep controversial group discussions under control. She led often-heated committee debates about concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) in 2015 and 2016.

While Carter said she has not yet received formal training, she’s confident in her abilities to learn how to become a strong facilitator.

“I like to think of myself as someone who can see many sides of an issue, think logically about problems, and help others come to a mutual conclusion,” she said.

One of Carter’s own initiatives is to advocate for a farm stress workshop that would help those working in agribusiness deal with stress and promote wellness. Such a workshop would have been beneficial this year in the wake of extensive crop damage caused by an extremely wet spring followed by excessively dry and hot conditions, she said.

While growing up, Carter was a 10-year member of the Washington County 4-H Club before graduating from Salem High School in 2010. Four years later, she received her bachelor’s degree in animal sciences and international agronomy from Purdue University.

It was also in 2014 that Carter worked as an intern with the Floyd County Purdue Extension service, she said.

“It was there that I was able to experience the different facets of extension work,” Carter said. “I worked with 4-H, agriculture, natural resources, as well as (health and human services).”

Her next achievement was being admitted into The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio to work on her master’s degree.

While concentrating her agricultural studies on international development, Carter made two separate trips to Central America. During her first trip to Nicaragua, Carter went door-to-door to complete a needs assessment regarding urban livestock, as well as educate livestock producers on safety and health issues.

After taking her assessment results back to Ohio and developing a curriculum with university professionals, Carter returned to Nicaragua to work with both a government agency and a university to promote the curriculum, she said.

Last December, Carter received her master’s degree from Ohio State. Before coming to Bartholomew County, Carter was serving as an educator at the Columbian Park Zoo in Lafayette.

[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”Cora Carter” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]

Position: Agriculture, Natural Resources and Community Development Extension Educator in Bartholomew County.

Hometown: Salem

Education: Salem High School, Class of 2010; Bachelor of science degree in animal sciences and international agronomy, Purdue University 2014; Master of science degree in agricultural extension education with a concentration in international development, Ohio State University, December 2018.  

Previous work experience: Seasonal educator at Columbian Park Zoo, Lafayette.

Family: Single