Campus News

UK Working With Starlink to Provide Vital Communication Resources in Tornado-ravaged Western Kentucky

Nathan Wynn, left, and Mark Machek, right
Nathan Wynn (left) and Mark Machek, University of Kentucky west regional extension information technology contacts, install Starlink kits in tornado-ravaged Western Kentucky. Photo provided.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 20, 2021) — When powerful tornadoes ripped through Western Kentucky, vital communication networks went down. To help get the region’s first responders and emergency management officials back online, the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service has partnered with the Starlink team.  

Starlink will provide kits which use advanced satellites in a low orbit to enable high-data rate internet, in strategic Western Kentucky locations. Starlink has internet relay satellites around the globe.   

A Kentucky 4-H alumnus reached out to McCracken County 4-H youth development agent Brittany Osborne to facilitate the support with Kentucky’s Cooperative Extension Service.  

“The UK Cooperative Extension Service has an office in each of the affected Kentucky counties,” Osborne said. “This effort just makes sense and empowers us even more to do what we do best to help our neighbors and communities.” 

The Starlink kits will remain in the affected areas for two months. If they are needed longer than that, the teams will reassess the situation. To maximize reach, UK is working closely with Kentucky Emergency Management and Connected Nation, a nonprofit that provides tools and resources to help local communities, states and federal agencies create and implement solutions for their broadband and digital technology gaps.  

“We are so grateful that Starlink has provided this connectivity to our hard-hit communities,” said Laura Stephenson, associate dean and extension director for the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. “4-H creates lifelong, servant leaders, and this is a great example of how 4-Hers answer the call to help, even after they leave our system.” 

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.