Core D: Community Engagement Core

The Community Engagement Core (CEC) partners with individuals and communities in proximity to or otherwise affected by hazardous waste sites and environmental pollutants and with more specialized local groups such as community action and service groups in such locations. Key partnerships with the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service (KY-CES) agents, health care professional groups such as physicians, nurses, and dietitians including those at county and district health departments, and EPA and ATSDR personnel help facilitate community-based participatory processes. The CEC’s programs and activities are designed to meet the community’s needs and are evaluated by measuring outcomes that demonstrate community sustainability and improved knowledge, attitudes, and health behaviors focused on reducing health risks associated with exposure to Superfund environmental pollutants. The aim of the CEC is to empower affected individuals and communities to take proactive steps in regard to their own health by drawing on the strength and findings of the nutrition-related research of the overall program and on the nutritional and scientific expertise within UK-SRC.



The UK-SRC Community Engagement Core seeks to:

  • To establish trust with and assess the needs of affected communities with consideration of sensitive issues;
  • To engage individuals, communities, health professionals, trusted community leaders, KY-CES agents, EPA and ATSDR personnel, and other partners to work together through multi-directional exchanges to guarantee effective communication and to build capacity;
  •  To inform and translate the research information from UK-SRC researchers through community-requested activities across the lifespan and promote systems and environmental changes to maximize reach and impact;
  •  To provide community feedback to UK-SRC’s researchers to develop safe, evidenced-based nutrition and environmental strategies that reduce the toxicity of PCB’s and related compounds.

Publications, Posters, and Presentations


Cooperative Extension Service Family and Consumer Science’s agent training consumer leaders


Partner with Cooperative Extension Service Family and Consumer Science

  • 9-lesson curriculum: “Eat Good, Feel Good” Nutrition Helps Your Body Be Its Healthiest Even When Your Environment Is Not"

Engaging with vulnerable older adult population attending senior centers that focused on increasing fruit and vegetable intake.

Engage with vulnerable older adults attending senior centers for community intervention project
  • 5-lesson: “Color Your Plate”

The blackberry project

Blackberry Project
  • Leverage the activities of Cooperative Extension to create a sustainable system of providing blackberries to specific community groups. 
  • Raise awareness of the benefits of phytonutrients for impacted communities.
  • Increase access of vulnerable populations to phytochemical-rich blackberries.
  • Engage individuals across a range of ages to participate in the project (K-12 and senior centers)

Chef responding to requests from an exposed community on new ways to include vegetables in meals

Eastern Kentucky Community
  • Coordinate with Healthy Eating Advisory Council with local community members.
  • Continue to respond to community requests for food demonstrations to eat healthfully.

For more information on CEC programs, or to schedule a UK-SRC Community Engagement representative to speak at your event, contact Lisa Gaetke at 859-257-3800.



Dawn Brewer
(Core Leader)

Lindell Ormsbee

Kelly Pennell