Kentucky State University (KSU) welcomes Dr. Johnnie Westbrook, Associate Extension Administrator, and Dr. Courtney Owens, Interim Assistant Extension Administrator and State Specialist in Program and Staff Development to the KSU family.

Dr. Westbrook will direct Kentucky State University’s Cooperative Extension Program, which is committed to solving problems faced by those who have limited social and economic resources and to improving the quality of life and vitality of communities and individuals throughout the Commonwealth of Kentucky. This is accomplished through outreach and informal education to our communities and underserved audiences, and through promoting sustainable economies, environments, communities, and families.

KSU’s Cooperative Extension Program is part of a nationwide network of local and regional offices staffed by experts who provide useful, practical, and research-based information to agriculture producers, small business owners, youth, and consumers in the community. Westbrook will lead KSU’s team of state specialists and county extension agents in partnership with the University of Kentucky’s Cooperative Extension System to reach farmers and producers across the state. Owens will assist in assessing how KSU is reaching the community and the impacts it has across the Commonwealth.

“George Washington Carver once said, ‘Where there is no vision, there is no hope.’ My vision for the University is to see Kentucky State University become the premier provider of educational programs,” Westbrook said. “My goal is to further Kentucky State’s strong relationship with limited resource farmers, communities, families and with the youth. My first goal is to conduct an internal review of our state and county programs, and to develop a strategic plan based on our strengths.”

Westbrook has over 20 years of experience in secondary agricultural education and Cooperative Extension. He received his Bachelor of Science in agricultural education from North Carolina State University; Master of Science in agricultural education from North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University; and a Doctor of Philosophy in career and technical education (emphasis in Extension education) from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

“I believe in setting a standard of principles; these are principles that will help move Kentucky State forward. I call them my six guiding principles – people, priorities, programs, professional development, performance, and pride. These are necessary to take Kentucky State to the top, and they will be essential in the development of my strategic plan to help the University meet its goals and vision,” Westbrook said.

Owens, who has an exceptional amount of experience in working with extension programs, will assist Westbrook in furthering Kentucky State’s goal.

“I was drawn to Kentucky State University because I truly believe in the mission and the vision of the University. I’m honored to be a part of the Kentucky State family and for the opportunity to help the University meet the institution’s goals. It’s my mission to share my knowledge of education and my experience in extension to help accelerate Kentucky State University into being the premier land-grant institution,” Owens said.

Owens received his Bachelor of Arts in political science and a Master of Science and professional service in agricultural education from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. He later received his Ph.D. in agricultural education and communication at the University of Florida in December 2016. Owens is a Returned United States Peace Corps Volunteer where he served in the Small Enterprise development sector as an agribusiness advisor in West Africa, Burkina Faso. During this two-year period, his primary project was to lead with local cotton farmers to improve sustainable agricultural practices and generate income through agribusiness ventures.