University of Illinois Extension has played an invaluable role in the development of our state’s rural communities since its establishment over 100 years ago. That story is no different here in Greater Peoria, thanks to devoted University of Illinois Extension educators like Kathie Brown.
Brown took the reins as Community and Economic Development Extension Educator for our region in 2013. But with 37 years working for University of Illinois Extension, she knows what it takes to achieve community development success.
“It’s really about trying to build capacity for change in communities through learning and discovery,” said Brown. “That process of learning and discovery in programming can take many different forms. It’s all about finding a way to get the creative juices flowing that can create change.”
Brown began her career with UofI Extension with a background in nutrition and community health education. Over the years she has worked on a variety of projects ranging from community health initiatives to digital literacy and STEAM education programs. No matter the project, she said her dedication to the work never wanes.
“The piece that really keeps me driven in all of this is that I would classify myself as a life-long learner,” said Brown. “I enjoy that process of being exposed to new ideas and approaches. That’s been the greatest part of working for Extension, there is always a new program venture every year.”
Originally from a small farming town a couple hours south of Greater Peoria on the Illinois River, Brown said there is a collaborative spirit in this region that makes it primed for successful projects.
“I have come to feel right at home in this region. I feel like time and again I am presented with programming opportunities where there is this natural collaboration that emerges,” she said.
“We have had such strong programming results with business partners and other organizations. The important thing is it takes commitment and time and energy on everyone’s part to continue that path of collaboration and support.”
We have already had so many great opportunities to work with Kathie Brown and UofI Extension — from workforce development to rural community health initiatives. We look forward to many more opportunities to collaborate on programs that foster resilient communities and a sustainable economy in our region!
Learn more about UofI Extension and the great community and economic development work they are doing HERE.