Professional News

Farmers, Tornado Victims Help Others Recover

Video Produced by the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 15, 2022) — Shared traumatic experiences can bring people closer together, even if they are normally miles apart. That was the case recently in the Muhlenberg County community of Bremen as Northern Kentucky livestock producers helped Western Kentucky livestock producers repair fences destroyed by the Dec. 10 tornado outbreak.   

Dealing with the effects of a devastating tornado was all too familiar for the Campbell County farmers. In March 2012, their small community of Peach Grove suffered a blow from an EF-4 tornado. Campbell County cattle farmer Tim Bertram lost his home in that tornado.  

“When we pulled up down here, we were like ‘oh boy,’” he said. “It’s the same kind of deal down here. It gives me the quivers to see it again.” 

Bertram said the help he received in 2012 was phenomenal, and he wants to help others recover from similar devastation.  

“We had a lot of help after the tornado hit my farm,” Bertram said. “There were five trailers coming down my driveway to help before the insulation stopped falling, and more people came that night to pick up debris in my fields. I just want to pay back the help that I got.” 

The group of Campbell County producers traveled to Muhlenberg County with Don Sorrell, retired Campbell County agriculture and natural resources extension agent. 

“Being an extension agent for 31-plus years, it is in your heart to serve other people,” Sorrell said. “We had experienced a tornado and received so much help up there in Campbell and Pendleton counties. That set the stage for us to repay all the volunteers and support that we received.” 

Sorrell had a strong professional and personal relationship with Darrell Simpson, longtime Muhlenberg County agriculture and natural resources extension agent with the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service. Sorrell contacted Simpson after he got the group of farmers together, and they began organizing plans to help. 

The fence repairs come at a critical time for livestock producers with spring turnout quickly approaching.  

“It’s so important to get these fences back up and get these cows back on grass,” Simpson said. “Really, it’s been a pretty tough winter with the muck and everything. We really need to get these cattle back out.” 

The group was able to assist several area farmers including Muhlenberg County farmer David Jarvis. The night of the tornados, Jarvis lost most of his fencing, four buildings, two calves and damage to the roofs of two homes at his registered red Angus seedstock operation. 

He said the support he has received has been so helpful but knows there’s still a lot that needs to be done to get his operation back to pre-tornado condition. 

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.