Gill Finley serves as the program leader in community resource development at Kentucky State University. Get to know Finley in the following interview.
Tell us a little about your path into your current field. Who and/or what inspired you to pursue public health or science more generally?
My focuses are on urban initiatives dealing with food access, health and wellness. What inspires me is having the opportunity to deliver resources and education to diverse groups of people within a metropolitan city who need Extension expertise and passion. I get to assist with overcoming health disparities and providing access to fresh food. I get to create avenues to expose and educate people with cutting-edge agriculture technology, build collaborations and pipelines for urban growers, and strive to strengthen those who lack to build resilient communities while promoting hope.
How has funding from USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) shaped your professional development and assisted with your current projects?
NIFA funding allows me to be equipped and groomed by peer institutions, empowering me to reach out and bring solutions in a time of adverse weather, cultural sensitivity, starvation of food and desperation. The funds allow me to touch a person— who is part of the family, who is part of a neighborhood, who is part of a community, who lives within a city who is in a NIFA-funded state— to be enhanced or great!
What advice to you have for current students who may be interested in pursuing a similar career path?
My advice to the next generation of professionals is that wherever there is a mountain, there will be a valley; you can grow in both places if you have the resources and education. If you determine the need, seek the solution and put your passion to it, you will be amazed at the immense impact you can have upon a person, culture and environment.
Photo: Gill Finley serves as the state specialist in community economic development at Kentucky State University. Image provided by Gill Finley.