Into the Community: The Liaison

Category: Uncategorized

By Alex Cate


Whether she’s helping teach disabled community members to cook or strengthening mother-daughter relationships through group meetings, Shelly Barnes says her job doesn’t feel like work.

“Really it’s a service career that gives me a lot of enjoyment and excitement,” she said. As a UT Extension agent specializing in family consumer sciences, Barnes is tasked with building community partnerships and creating educational programs in Wilson County. She focuses on helping teach community members about health, nutrition, food safety, human development and family economics.

She recently helped build a handicap-accessible garden and curriculum for a local organization committed to removing barriers for people with disabilities. The idea for the garden came to her after teaching a nutrition class for disabled community members and seeing how they responded to learning to cook.

Another example of how her work is making a difference in the lives of community members is the Petals and Pearls program which brings mothers and daughters together to help them grow healthy relationships.

In addition to her time spent on the job helping others around her, Barnes serves on the board of directors of the Wilson County Community Health Center and volunteers with 4-H. “I just knew Extension was the career for me,” she said. “I often feel I get more out of my work than some of my clients do.”