BY LEANN DILBECK –
The Polk County Office of Cooperative Extension has announced the addition of Bridgett Martin to their staff. Martin will begin Monday, April 3, as the agencies’ newest Cooperative Extension Agent – Family and Consumer Science/4H. Martin explained that her time will be divided 70% to FCS and the remaining 30% to 4H.
Carla Vaught, the Cooperative Extension Agent – Agriculture, is looking forward to welcoming Martin and her experience to the agency, “I couldn’t be more excited to have Bridget join our team at the U of A Polk County Extension Office! Her experience as an FCS Agent in Scott County and her vast network of connections here in her home county will allow her to hit the ground running. She will be key in helping address issues facing families in Polk County.”
Martin is a Mena native and 1991 graduate of Mena High School. She completed her Bachelor’s degree in Home Economics at Henderson State University and graduated from the University of Arkansas in 2005 with a Masters degree in Agriculture & Extension Education.
Her career with the Cooperative Extension services actually began in Mena in 1995 where she was a Water Quality Agent through an opportunity created by a grant. However, a FCS Agent position later became available in Scott County, where she was hired and served until 1999. She would later go back in 2015 to serve in that same role until the most recent opening in Mena became available.
Martin admitted that as excited as she is to have the opportunity to make a positive difference in her hometown, it was difficult leaving Scott County. She spoke highly of the staff from that agency and the relationships she has built over the years. But as the mother of four children, three of which are active in Mena schools, Martin explained it was time to be closer to their activities, and she is grateful for the opportunity to be able to be a resource to the families of Polk County and improve the overall quality of life. Martin’s oldest child, Maddison Schuller, is married and has been accepted into the Pharmaceutical Program at UAMS that will begin in August. At home, she has Autumn, a junior; Emily, a 7th grader; and Noah, who is in Kindergarten. “I know first hand the challenges of managing work and family and I want to help make mom’s jobs easier and families healthier.” Martin explained she will be coordinating a variety of cooking classes like ‘how to prepare freezer meals’ as well as making nutrition education more readily available to teachers, students and guardians. “We will have classes on managing money and financial planning… essentially making good, healthy life choices and having less stress!”
Martin said that she loves the diversity of the job and is eager to be able to bring valuable resources, most of which are free, to families. “Everything we make available is based on research. You can have assurance and confidence that when you’re getting information from us, you are getting the most current, research based, factual information out there.”