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.” 

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.