This month we feature Sue Robison, county engagement specialist in Carroll County, with Bret Lyon and Kathy Lock of the Carroll County YMCA.

Sue Robison has been with MU Extension for 22 years. When she moved to Carroll County in 2021 to serve as CES in nutrition and health, the county’s senior center in Carrollton was closed to the public due to COVID-19. Almost a quarter of the county’s 8,600 residents are seniors, and the center’s closing had a big impact on their health and social lives.

Sue reached out to Bret Lyon and Kathy Lock with the Carroll County YMCA. Together, they developed a plan to merge existing YMCA programs with MU Extension offerings like A Matter of Balance, Walk With Ease and Stay Strong, Stay Healthy (SSSH). They also modified more physically demanding classes like the Y’s Stretch and Flex to make them more accessible. Over the last year, the new offerings drew dozens of seniors from around the county.

The success of the new programming led Sue take programs like SSSH outside of the Y and teaching seniors in their residences. “We made the change from simply setting up programs to taking the programs to the people extension is designed to help,” she said.

The relationship between Carroll County YMCA and MU Extension can be mirrored in other places around Missouri to help ease programming difficulties.

“In extension, we partner with others to improve peoples’ lives,” she said. “Keep looking for the partnerships, because you never know where they are going to be.”

“It’s important to get the word out,” Bret said. “These partnerships are great, and the positivity that I’ve seen radiate through extension and our programs has been incredible.”

The plan is to expand programming as resources become available. “Some people have lived in this community for 30-plus years and are just now meeting some people for the first time,” Bret said. More programs and events are planned to ensure the connections continue.