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Kansas Profile – Now That’s Rural: Paula Peters, Culture of Health

Could the extension service do for health what it has done for agriculture through the years? During the past century, American agriculture – with assistance from agricultural research and extension – has been transformed from subsistence farming to an agricultural system that is the envy of the world. Could similar progress occur in the health arena? To do so would require a deep cultural change that would value health as a priority. In short, we might say it requires a culture of health.

Dr. Paula Peters is associate director of extension programs for K-State Research and Extension. The term “extension” refers to the state- and county-based educational outreach programs which extend helpful research results from the nation’s land-grant universities to the public.

“For years, (extension) has done work on nutrition, foods, and physical activity,” Paula said. In a larger sense, extension has worked to support the health of families, farms and communities since the extension service was founded in 1914.

In 2014, the national Extension Committee on Policy supported the development of a national framework for extension work in public and community health. That report included the aspirational statement that extension could do for health what it has done for agriculture.

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