By Deb Andres
Geary County Extension Agent
Karen Hildebrand Erichsen has been named the Geary County Extension Appreciation Award winner.
Erichsen has been involved in Extension programming throughout her life. As far as Extension activities and events go, she has been involved since childhood, to Extension Homemakers Unit meetings, to fair, PDC meeting and other activities. What was once known as EHU’s, the name of these community groups has changed through the years, identified as Community Clubs, Farm Bureau Units, Home Demonstration Units (HDU), to where they are today in Geary County – Extension Education Units.
As a long-time member of the Clarks Creek Extension Education Unit, Karen has modeled the purpose of the EEU experience: to learn and share knowledge in local community groups in a way that proactively addresses the challenges facing individuals and families.
Karen has led the coordination of the Open Class Special Baking Contest at the Geary County Free Fair for over 10 years. She develops the theme for each year’s special event, collects prizes from the Kansas Wheat Commission, local businesses, and individuals. She promotes the event to the community and to many youth in our county. She brings energy and excitement to the event as each product is carefully evaluated by the open class foods judge.
She uses her skills and knowledge at county fairs across north central and northeastern Kansas by serving as a foods judge, visual arts judge, and much more! She supports the involvement of community members and 4-Hers at these annual county-level events by offering helpful feedback and assigning ribbon rankings.
Karen currently serves as a community member at large for the 4-H/Sr. Citizens Building committee. This group manages the upkeep and maintenance of the very building we are meeting in tonight. She is an active participant in in the annual Building Committee fundraiser and garners donations from the community for the silent and live auctions that take place at this yearly event.