Last week, we heard the State of the Union address. While I do not intend to ever talk politics in my column space, I do want to share some of the positive things that are happening in the Cottonwood Extension District. Perhaps you will see something that piques your interest and gives you a reason to call our office to sign up as a participant.

K-State Research and Extension focuses on four main program areas: agriculture and natural resources, family and consumer science, 4-H and youth development, and community development. Our Program Development Committees for each of those areas will be meeting soon to brainstorm ideas from Ellis and Barton counties as we meet the needs of our residents.

A calving school, cover crop program and a session on lease laws have kept agriculture and natural resource agents Alicia Boor and Stacy Campbell busy during the month of January. A Master Gardener class started last week in the Great Bend office. Horticulture agent Rip Winkel and Alicia, ARN agent, are taking the lead to welcome 15 new Master Gardeners into the program.

In the area of family and consumer sciences, Linda Beech and I are meeting the needs of families with research based information about many topics. A freezer meals workshop had to be rescheduled in Hays due to weather and is now set for Feb. 22. I had a great response to the Stay Strong, Stay Healthy workshops and will be offering another class starting in mid-April. I will be teaching the Healthy Cooking Styles information based on a fact sheet I wrote last year. The free educational programs are set for Feb. 21 in Great Bend and April 3 in Hays.

K-State Research and Extension’s signature program, Walk Kansas, is set for March 18 through May 12. Next week's column will be devoted to the details of this program, so stay tuned and dust off those walking shoes.

The 4-H and Youth program is off to a busy start in 2018. A successful judges training workshop was last weekend and 4-H Day events are coming up soon in Ellis and Barton counties. Another program you’ll hear more about soon is the Monarchs on the Move grant that was awarded to the Cottonwood District.

And finally, a program that involves several of our district agents is the Estate Planning Workshop set for Feb. 26 in Great Bend. The workshop will run from 5:30 to 9:00 p.m. at the Great Bend Recreation Center Burnside Room, and features four speakers relaying information about the important topic. Registration is $20 per person, and $15 for each additional family member. Fees cover the meal and materials. Registration deadline is Feb. 16, so give us a call to register.

I’ve just had room to give you short descriptions about the many upcoming learning opportunities available in the Cottonwood Extension District. If you would like additional information, I would invite you to take a look at our quarterly newsletter available electronically at www.cottonwood.ksu.edu. Follow the news/media link and you will see it listed. I hope to see you soon.

Donna Krug is the district director and family and consumer science agent in the Cottonwood Extension District's Great Bend Office.