Martha Murphy envisions a Crawford County in which her grandchildren can live healthy lives.
That drives her involvement with Live Well Crawford County and also segues beautifully with her work as an Expanded Food Nutrition Education Program agent through the K-State Research and Extension Office.
The result is a passion that burns brightly, fueling the work of Live Well Crawford County and earning Murphy recognition as a Woman of Distinction.
“Our vision is to make the healthy choice the easy choice,” Murphy said. “I have three grandchildren who live in Crawford County. That’s where my passion lies. I have said all along, from the very beginning, this isn’t for me. This is for my grandchildren.”
Murphy credits her work with extension for helping spark her passion for changing environments.
“I’ve been involved with extension all of my life,” Murphy said. “I started out as a 4H agent in Crawford County and took a little time off when my son was born.”
Murphy’s daughter was born a couple years later and she spent time during their young years as the youth director at the Presbyterian Church in Pittsburg.
“This position, the EFNEP position, came open and I was interested,” Murphy said. “As a career choice it was the right time in my life to go that direction. My passion for this came out of some trainings K-State provided me, as well as the Kansas Health Foundation.”
Murphy said her job is to work on nutrition education with low-income families, and she said through that role she has learned about accessibility challenges for those who rely on walking or biking for transportation.
“We are being encouraged to work on the systems level and to help make changes that have a broader stroke and reach more people,” Murphy said. “When you can change the environment of the community, then you are much more able to make a broader stroke with your affect than when working with a small group or individuals on making healthy choices.”
Murphy currently serves as the chairperson of Live Well, and said she has been involved from the get-go in 2006.
Since that time, the group has gone from traditional health and wellness programming to working for systemic change through local food networks, connecting trails and more.
“I’m not a physical fitness guru,” Murphy said, but she said the diversity is helpful. “I do think it’s good to have people who are not necessarily the spandex wearers cheering this effort on.”
In recent years, Murphy said Live Well has formed four sub-committees, including Live Active, which is doing pedestrian transportation assessments and studies around the county, Eat Well, which is a food policy council for Crawford County, Breathe Well, to promote smoke-free environments and Age Well, with an initial focus on fall prevention.
When you see environments that have been transformed and you see what difference it makes in the lives of people, not everyone chooses to do the active lifestyle, but some people do,” Murphy said.
In addition to her work as an Extension agent and with Live Well, Murphy is a Ruling Elder in the Presbyterian Church, a longtime board member for United Way of Crawford County and has been a member of PEO, Chapter BG for 37 years.