WVU Extension Agent –
Families & Health, Mercer County
Through her work in Mercer County, Andi Bennett, West Virginia University Extension Service agent and assistant professor, helps advance the lives of people across her county through programs that educate them and improve their wellbeing.
“Mercer County is a large county and one of the biggest obstacles is reaching all members of the community,” said Bennett.
Although distance poses a challenge, Bennett creates positive change through numerous programs, and by working together with organizations like Community Action South Eastern West Virginia, Community Connections, Senior Focus and Workforce West Virginia.
“Our ongoing goal is to build a strong sense of community while improving the lives and wellbeing of citizens across the county.”
Bennett instructs adults through several programs and workshops which help them build interpersonal relationships, both at home and at work. Some of these programs include True Colors Personality, the Five Love Languages and How Not to Fall in Love with a Jerk or Jerkette.
“The programs I teach not only affect the adults in class, but makes way for a better life for their families, too.”
Through WVU Extension programs like Dining with Diabetes and Strong Families Eat Together, Bennett educates families how to live well through healthy eating habits. She also helps them to create strong connections between one another, emphasizing the importance of spending time together.
“Something as simple as family mealtime has a huge influence on children,” remarked Bennett. “Kids perform better in school, their manners improve and healthy eating habits are learned by watching their parents and older siblings.”
With the Dining with Diabetes program, Bennett supports individuals and their families to manage their diabetes through educational seminars and demonstrations, highlighting healthy eating habits, cooking tips and keeping a healthy lifestyle.
West Virginia has a large population of people who are diabetic or at-risk for diabetes. Providing free courses and demonstrations for those who struggle with diabeteswith a focus on a healthy dietis one way Bennett helps improve the lives of West Virginians in Mercer County.
“I work with the Princeton Health and Fitness Center through the PEIA Health program. It’s a way that our reach has been expanded to positively affect the community,” said Bennett.
In the summer, she teaches canning “best practices” through the Mercer County Tailgate Farmers Market. From proper canning technique and food safety, to healthy recipe offerings and the testing of canning equipment, Bennett helps individuals provide wholesome, canned preserves to their families.
“The farmers market is a great way for me to get involved with the local community, and is one of the things I enjoy most,” she said. “Not only do I get to interact with Mercer County residents, but I can offer advice and information to preserve healthy foods from their garden for use all year long.”
Her goal is to continue the mission of creating strong families and improving the health and well being of individuals and families across Mercer County, with an emphasis to reach more of the population with educational workshops, advice and information to make their lives better.
Bennett graduated from Marshall University with a bachelor’s degree in counseling and rehabilitation, and a master’s degree in agency and school counseling.
Some of her previous positions include experience as a family therapist in Beckley with youth care and the Regional Education Service Agency, and as a WVU Extension 4-H Agent in Summers County.
She has authored and co-authored WVU Extension Families and Health publications on the topics of living well, cooking, starting a book club, taking care of your spirit and living your bucket list. She has also written an article in the WVU Extension Garden Calendar publication.
To reach Bennett, call 304-425-3079 or email AGBennett@mail.wvu.edu.
You can also follow the WVU Mercer County Extension office by “liking” them on Facebook.