Since 2012, the Colorado State University College of Health and Human Sciences Legacies Project has been honoring retired staff and faculty emeriti for their exceptional work and forward-thinking contributions to our shared history and accomplishments as a college.
On March 28, Laurel Kubin, retired county Extension director for Larimer County, was recognized for her long service and contributions to CSU Extension and for her knowledge of and passion for educating people about personal financial literacy. Photos from the event are posted on the College’s Flickr.
Roots in rural Colorado
Laurel Kubin grew up on a farm in Genoa, a small rural community in eastern Colorado. During her formative years, she was very involved with her local 4-H club where she participated in many home economics projects, including clothing and nutrition, as well as the leadership project. While in high school, Kubin became involved with the Lincoln County 4-H leadership team and was able to attend a 4-H leadership conference at CSU, the experience that set her sights on eventually becoming a Ram. As a senior at Genoa High School, Kubin received her acceptance letter to CSU and she became the first person in her family to attend college.
Upon arriving on campus, Kubin elected to study Home Economics. She fondly remembers several instrumental female professors from her time as an undergraduate student, and under their tutelage she graduated as Outstanding Senior in Home Economics in 1971.
After graduating with her B.S. in Consumer Sciences and Housing in 1971, Kubin accepted a job as a CSU Extension agent for 4-H and Home Economics in Rio Blanco County, headquartered in Meeker, Colorado. Kubin always thought a career in extension would be a rewarding challenge, as she had grown up attending extension programming and participating in 4H before college.
Kubin excelled at her role as an Extension agent in Meeker. In fact, less than a year after arriving in Meeker, she was promoted to the position of county director. She was the first female to hold this role in a multiple agent county, and she remained in Rio Blanco County for 17 years. During her tenure, she taught local community members courses on food preservation and food safety, financial management, family and community leadership and stress management. She also managed the local 4-H program, working with youth and adults to develop citizenship, leadership and life skills.
Kubin always found her Extension work to be rewarding because she was able to work in her community and directly influence people’s quality of life. Extension agents are very much “boots on the ground” people as they get to help community members build on what they already know, while supplying them with new research-based information that will help improve their daily situations.
“Extension programs are truly unique because they are backed by land-grant university research and knowledge,” Kubin explains. “Extension agents use their expertise and facilitation skills to address issues that affect local economic, societal and environmental conditions.”
During her 17-year tenure in Meeker, Kubin earned her M.S. from Oregon State University and was very involved in community development in Rio Blanco County. One of Laurel’s favorite projects was her work on a critical water resource study that assessed all of the available water resources in the county for farmers, ranchers and community members. She also led the Family Community Leadership program, building women’s leadership skills to impact their families and communities.
New roles in Extension
In 1988, Kubin briefly left CSU Extension to be the county Extension director for the University of California system in Colusa County. She held this role for three and a half years before returning to Colorado in 1992 to take on the county Extension director role for Larimer County.
“Extension is in Laurel’s blood,” said Suzanne Jarboe-Simpson, change management analyst for the City of Fort Collins, in reference to Kubin’s time as the Larimer County Extension director. “The work that she did in this role was more than a job for her, it was part and parcel of who she is.”
Kubin held the role as director for 25 years during which she was highly involved in the development of The Ranch as a location for 4-H and community activities. Another high point for Kubin was during her tenure in Larimer County was the development of a financial literacy initiative, bringing numerous community partners together to address this need.
“Laurel has a lifelong passion for financial literacy, and this passion has shown up in a variety of different ways over the course of the years she was with her position with Larimer County,” said Jarboe-Simpson. “She’s a wealth of knowledge, and is so approachable and amenable in the way she delivers her information, that folks are just so open to it and she’s made a difference in so many lives.”
“She absolutely made a mark in Northern Colorado in [family financial management], if not all of Colorado,” said Christine Fruhauf, professor and director of HDFS Extension in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies.
Kubin and her colleagues sponsored the Rocky Mountain Conference on Aging for several years and she enjoyed providing education as part of Extension’s Gerontology Team. She also provided elected leadership for national organizations including the Joint Council of Extension Professionals during this time span.
Awards and recognition
After 46 years and a robust career with Extension, Kubin retired from her role as county Extension director for Larimer County in 2017 with numerous accolades and awards.
- Educator of The Year Award from the Association of Financial Counseling and Planning Education
- Northern Colorado Women of Distinction Award
- CSU Alumni Association Award for Extension
“She really dedicated her professional work to CSU Extension and to moving forward health and wellness,” said Fruhauf. “Particularly, as I think about the mission of the College of Health and Human Sciences, she really embodied that in all that she did.”
Today, Kubin lives in Windsor, Colorado with her husband, Frank, and remains a very active member in her community. “My personal and professional legacy, I hope,” she said, “is that people will consider that I cared, and tried to provide them appropriate education for their situation in a respectful way that helped them maintain their dignity.”
“Her contributions to this community on behalf of CSU are absolutely astronomical,” said Jarboe-Simpson. “She’s one of those rare people that you may not notice when you walk down the street, but her fingerprints are all over this community.”
To learn more about Kubin, watch a video about her, and make a gift in her honor, see her College of Health and Human Sciences Legacies Project webpage.