Get to know extension agent Kim Mayo

Get to know extension agent Kim Mayo

By Madeline Otten

The Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) brings resources to the community from Virginia’s land grant universities, Virginia Tech and Virginia State University. VCE works with public and private partners and volunteers to reach larger and more diverse audiences.

Extension agents form a network of educators who bring research-based solutions to communities, homes and businesses to tackle problems that the people of Virginia face. They educate through classes, workshops and programs within the community.

Kim Mayo, Fluvanna’s Virginia Cooperative Extension unit coordinator, started in her position in 2017, but her role in Fluvanna began much earlier.

Mayo grew up on a farm on the Louisa County line and went through the Louisa County school system. She earned her bachelors in English language and literature from the University of Virginia and her masters from Virginia Tech in education curriculum and instruction with an emphasis on instructional technology.

Beginning in 1999 Mayo taught language arts at Fluvanna Middle School, but almost 10 years later when the 4-H extension agent position opened in 2008, Mayo was thrilled to have the opportunity to combine her passion for 4-H and youth development while continuing her career in education.

“My first 4-H experience was in the Fluvanna colts and fillies 4-H club over 30 years ago, and I have been involved with 4-H in some form ever since,” said Mayo. “The leadership, citizenship, and life skills I learned from participating in 4-H as a youth have helped me become successful in my career as an extension agent.”

Having both roles keeps Mayo’s hands busy. As a 4-H extension agent, she recruits and manages a network of volunteers to develop and implement youth programs. Programs include after-school and short-term educational programs and working with volunteers who lead clubs. As unit coordinator she works with her team to identify and meet the needs of Fluvanna residents.

“After a record rainfall in 2018, we received several calls regarding water quality concerns. As a result, we recently coordinated a drinking water clinic through Virginia Tech’s Virginia Household Water Quality Program for residents who rely on a private water supply,” said Mayo. “In addition to allowing residents to affordably test their drinking water, we provided two educational programs on common sources of contamination, and provided information on maintaining a well. We had not conducted a drinking water clinic in Fluvanna in several years.”

One of the many projects Mayo and her team work on is the Holiday Lake 4-H camp. Each summer, kids spend a week at Holiday Lake in Appomattox and participate in numerous activities that help inspire confidence and growth.

Another program is the annual fourth grade Agriculture Day at Carysbrook Elementary. Students spend a day outside interacting with over 30 volunteers who share the importance of agriculture. Students have the opportunity to learn about pollinators and watersheds, enjoy hands-on planting practice, and interact with sheep, horses and cows.

While these programs have been a success, some of the time has been tough. When John Thompson, the former agriculture and natural resources extension agent and unit coordinator, was promoted to the role of district director of VCE, Mayo and her team were left with a vacancy that remained unfilled due to budget constraints from the state.

Without having someone on site to field questions from the public, it has been difficult for the team since a large majority of the questions are centered on agriculture.

However, they have recently hired Rick Hernandez in a part-time role. While Mayo said a full-time position is necessary to meet the needs of the county, the team works rigorously to help as much as possible.

The VCE team is also working with the county to develop a rentable commercial kitchen in the Fluvanna Community Center.

“We have equipment in place and a few minor details to attend to before applying for certification from the Health Department and Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services,” said Mayo. “While this has been a three-year process, we hope to have the kitchen open for business by the start of the new fiscal year” in July.

Mayo wants every resident to be aware of the services that VCE offers.

“At public events such as the county fair or Old Farm Day, participants are often surprised to learn that the extension office is not just for those with a farm,” said Mayo. “We offer education in the areas of family and consumer science (nutrition and financial management), agriculture and natural resources, 4-H youth development, and community viability.”

VCE works with over 150 volunteers each year, including master gardeners, master naturalists, master food volunteers, 4-H volunteers, and additional community partners who allow the team to expand its reach past the staff members in the office.

Further down the road Mayo wants to see more civic engagement in Fluvanna. She believes giving back to the community is important.

Mayo’s love for animals continues at home. She lives on a small farm with her husband Dwayne, who also serves as chief of the Palmyra Volunteer Fire Company; their daughter Cameron, who is in ninth grade at FCHS and is in the marching band; and cows, sheep and chickens.

Mayo’s job requires her to work nights and weekends in order to reach the youth audience, but when she is not working on a weekend program, she will likely be out on her farm.


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