Video by Jeff Franklin/UK Ag Communications.
“I attended the Rogers Scholars program two years ago, and they really encourage you to go home and give back to your community,” Morgan said. “Burkesville is known for its tourism, because we are right on Dale Hollow Lake, so I thought about beautification activities I could do in the county.”
Morgan and her mother Amy, approached Elijah Wilson, the county’s University of Kentucky cooperative extension agent for 4-H Youth Development, about ways she could do this. The result was a committee headed by Morgan and comprised of local leaders.
Two years later, Morgan and the committee she started, Partners with P.R.I.D.E., have added rock and landscaping to three of the town’s welcome signs and have installed flower beds along the roads going through the Southern Kentucky town.
“You wouldn’t believe the positive responses we have had from the landscaping,” Wilson said. “It really has changed the perception of people in our community and the people who visit our community. When you come into Burkesville, you feel like you have arrived somewhere. We want to move forward with more things like this.”
The committee has made the community enhancements with funding from a $10,000 Appalachian Regional Commission grant that Morgan and Wilson received. Morgan obtained the matching funds for the grant by convincing local residents and businesses to sponsor the project.
“It’s been a learning experience and has helped me communicate better with my own age group and has given me more confidence to approach leaders in my community,” she said.
Groups, such as Extension Master Gardeners, not only sponsor a sign but also provide upkeep for their sign’s landscaping. The Master Gardeners installed rock and landscaping at the Burkesville welcome sign on State Route 90.
“I enjoy looking at the welcome signs in surrounding communities. Some of them are really pretty, so it’s nice that we have something comparable,” said Joan Radford, former president of the Cumberland County Master Gardeners.
Other local organizations including the Cumberland County High School Future Farmers of America chapter and the city have helped with maintenance of the areas.
While Morgan is entering UK this fall as a health sciences major and plans to become a doctor, the committee’s work will continue in her absence.
“We are getting new sponsorships each year, and we just started getting renewal sponsorships,” she said. “I hope it grows even more.”
Wilson hopes this project can spark ideas and interest in other young leaders in the county community that numbers 6,800 people.
“We need young people to step up, because they are going to make our community successful in the future. They are our future,” he said.
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