Ken Culp
Associate Professor & Principal Extension Specialist

Professional Profile

Dr. Ken Culp, III is Principal Extension Specialist for Volunteerism in the Department of 4-H Youth Development and Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Family Sciences at the University of Kentucky in Lexington.  He provides direct support to 146 4-H Agents, who in turn utilize 19,815 adult and 4,489 youth volunteers across the Commonwealth.  The professional and volunteer staff collectively serve 233,271 4-H members in Kentucky.  He is responsible for 4-H volunteer program development, volunteer education and staff development in volunteerism.  He previously held a similar position at The Ohio State University from Dec., 1995 through Aug., 1999 and was a 4-H Educator in Whitley County,  IN from 1988 – 1994.

A native of rural Rensselaer, IN, Ken was born and reared on a large family livestock and grain farm and is a graduate of Rensselaer Central High School.  Dr. Culp received his B.S. and M.S. in Animal Sciences and his Ph.D. in Educational Foundations and Administration, all from Purdue University.  His dissertation was entitled: “Factors affecting length of service of adult 4-H leaders in Indiana.”

Ken has more than 25 years of experience in volunteer and nonprofit administration, volunteer development and service activities and leadership development.  His research interests include volunteer recruitment, motivation, recognition and retention; generational differences, gender differences in volunteerism, trends in volunteerism, volunteer competencies, volunteer program effectiveness and leadership development.  He also works as a private consultant and trainer in volunteerism for non-profit organizations and is a keynote speaker.  Ken blends humor and raw emotion into recounting true stories and personal experiences to create a unique and powerful experience for his audience.

Ken has presented more than 300 papers, abstracts, workshops and seminars since 1996 in 36 states, Canada, Japan and South Korea.  He has given invited presentations and consulted in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Illinois, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin for the American Red Cross, the American Association of Dentists Auxiliary, Association of Leaders in Volunteer Efforts (ALIVE), CASA, Chamber of Commerce (Jackson, MO), Cincinnati Association of Volunteer Administration (CAVA), Cuyahoga County (Cleveland) Board of Mental Retardation, Directors of Volunteers in Service (Indiana & St. Louis, MO), Home Health Care, HOPE of Wisconsin, Hospice, Indiana Congress of Counties, Indiana Farm Bureau, Main Street (Arkansas, Kentucky, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Washington), National Association of Area Aging Agencies (N4A), National Collegiate 4-H, Nebraska Organization of Volunteer Leaders, RSVP, United States Army, United States National Guard, the National Guard in Alaska, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, Virginia and Washington, the National Park Service, United Way, the Volunteer Administrators Network of Nashville, the Tulsa Association of Volunteer Administrators, New Hampshire’s Downtown Conference, Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP);  and the Cooperative Extension Service in 15 states. 

He has published 32 articles in professional journals, including the Journal of Extension, the Journal of Volunteer Administration, the Journal of Agricultural Education, the Journal of Leadership Studies and the Journal of Leadership Education.  Ken is serving or has served as a reviewer for the Journal of Extension, the Journal of Volunteer Administration, the Journal of Leadership Education, the Journal of Agriculture Education and the Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly.

Ken developed and published the GEMS Model of Volunteer Administration.  GEMS is a research-based, conceptual model which provides volunteer administrators with the structure to build a successful volunteer program.  The GEMS model is currently being utilized throughout the USA, UK and Finland to provide a framework for volunteer programs.  He developed the University of Kentucky Volunteer Administration Academy (VAA).  The VAA is a series of two, three-hour graduate courses designed to develop volunteer administrator’s professional skills and abilities.  Finally, Dr. Culp was the principal investigator on a team of three researchers in a four year, national research project that developed the Volunteer Research, Knowledge & Competency Model.  The VRKC has been reviewed and adopted by the USDA-CSREES (now NIFA) and has been implementation by 4-H Youth Development nation-wide.

Ken is a member of the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents (and serves on the Volunteerism Task Force), has served as Past-President, President, Vice President and Secretary of the International Association of Leadership Educators and is a charter member of the International Association of Volunteer Resources Managers and a member of the Association for Research of Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action. 

Ken served for four years as a Commissioner on the Kentucky Commission of Community Volunteerism and Service.  He previously served four years on the Ohio Governor’s Community Service & Volunteerism Council.   

Ken and his wife Nancy are the parents of three daughters, ages 24, 22 and 16.  The Culp girls are active in 4-H, FFA and show Chiangus, Chimaine, Chiford, Hereford and Maintainer cattle nationwide.

In his spare time, Ken enjoys collecting oak antique furniture, antique and new Fiesta, depression glass, judging livestock shows and has coached the state 4-H Livestock Judging teams in Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky.  He is a volunteer 4-H club leader, volunteers for the Nicholasville First United Methodist Church and is a volunteer judge in the Miss America and the Miss Teen America Scholarship Programs.