UK Happenings

UK Appalachian Center to Host Water Week Nov. 18-21

Events will showcase issues relating to ecology, infrastructure and bottled water, and highlight organizations working on water-related issues.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 15, 2019) — Next week, the University of Kentucky Appalachian Center will host UK's annual Water Week, a student-led series of events designed to bring awareness to water-related issues in Eastern Kentucky and beyond. The events will showcase issues relating to ecology, infrastructure and bottled water, and highlight organizations working on water-related issues.

Madison Mooney, a graduate student in the UK College of Social Work and intern for the Appalachian Center (based in UK's College of Arts and Sciences), is helping organize this year's event. She has worked firsthand in her hometown in Martin County, Kentucky, where water quality and affordability issues have impacted the region for several years.

"I believe the work I am doing with the Martin County Water and Health project and for this year’s Water Week makes me a strong advocate for water quality issues," Mooney said. "Being involved with this project has shown me the importance of macro social work issues and how it all relates back to the individual. Also it shows that if you want to implement change in your area, or be involved with something you're passionate about, you need to step up to the plate and be the change that needs to happen."

"The UK Appalachian Center has a focus on issues relating to social and environmental justice in the region, and water access and quality are major concerns throughout Eastern Kentucky today," said Kathryn Engle, associate director of the Appalachian Center and Appalachian Studies program. "Since last year, students from the region have been organizing this series of events, bringing awareness to water-related issues in the region."

Events will take place Nov. 18-21, and will include:

Forum: "Where Does Our Water Come From?" 4:30-6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 18, in the William T. Young Library UK Athletics Auditorium

Speakers will include Steven Evans, associate director of the Kentucky Water Resources Research Institute at UK; Erika Hernandez, a doctoral student specializing in water distribution modeling; and Amanda Gumbert who serves as an extension water quality specialist with UK's College of Agriculture, Food and Environment.

Film screening "Water Stories: Martin County" followed by panel discussion and reception 3:15-5:15 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 19, in the William T. Young Library UK Athletics Auditorium

Speakers and presenters include: Nina and Mickey McCoy, with Martin County Concerned Citizens; Ricki Draper, a community engagement coordinator for LiKEN (Livelihoods Knowledge Exchange Network); Madison Mooney, master's student in the UK College of Social Work; and Jason Unrine, associate professor in UK's Department of Plant and Soil Sciences.

Film screening: "Tapped" followed by reception 5 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 20, in the William T. Young Library UK Athletics Auditorium

Co-sponsored by the UK Tracy Farmer Institute for Sustainability and the Environment, this film will explore the effects of the bottled water industry. The event will be emceed by Alyssa Dyer, digital media and design major and Appalachian studies minor, who is also from Martin County. The film will be followed by a reception in the library's Alumni Gallery, with free food and free reusable mason jars.

Water Week Tabling and Networking 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 21, in the White Hall Classroom Building, First Floor

Want to know more about how to get involved? Clubs and organizations working to address water-related issues will be stationed on the first floor of White Hall Classroom Building to answer questions and to provide information about their services and projects. Organizations will include the Kentucky Student Environmental Coalition, Green Thumb, Graduate Appalachian Research Community, Divest UK and UK Cooperative Extension.

Water Week is supported by the Inclusive Excellence Student Program Grant through the UK Office for Institutional Diversity. Wednesday's reception is co-sponsored by the Tracy Farmer Institute for Sustainability and the Environment. For more information, visit

The UK Appalachian Center contributes to the land-grant mission of the University of Kentucky by fostering community-university partnerships in research, learning and engagement in Appalachia, a region faced with unique opportunities and challenges toward sustainable development in a globalized context.

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.