Year Inducted: 
2016

Bonnie O. Tanner of Harrodsburg received her bachelor’s degree in home economics at UK in 1963 and master’s and doctoral degrees in agricultural and extension education at the University of Maryland.

Immediately after graduating from UK, she established a home economics program at a Kentucky mental hospital, creating training for community re-entry and supervising a halfway house in Lexington. It was the first of many of Tanner’s initiatives that became national models.

She taught middle school students home economics in Pennsylvania, then served as an extension agent for home economics and as an associate professor in Maryland. In Maryland, she developed curriculum and training programs and served in a variety of leadership roles.

In 1975, she joined the Bureau of Labor Statistics but soon moved on to the U.S. Department of Agriculture where her work in women’s leadership, dietary guidelines, farm to school and food and fitness were nationally and internationally recognized.

She returned to UK in 1999 and served as assistant director for family and consumer sciences for five years, then transitioned to working on special projects for the college until her retirement in 2007. Throughout her career, Tanner encouraged and implemented the formation of strategic partnerships, collaborations and alliances. At UK, she developed unique partnerships in the arena of public health including the Health Education through Extension Leadership initiative and a partnership with the College of Public Health and Cooperative Extension.

Tanner was co-founder of the Kentucky Women in Agriculture organization, a nonprofit now in its 15th year. That group also organized an economic fact-finding mission to Cuba in 2002. She was an early advocate for local foods and farm to school programs and served on several governors’ task forces related to family farms, economic status of women and early childhood development.

Tanner has also led an active life outside her career field. She has served on the UK Art Museum Advisory Committee, Mercer County Habitat for Humanity, Bluegrass Trust for Historic Preservation, James Harrod Trust and Kentucky Society of Washington, D.C. She is the author of numerous publications and the recipient of numerous honors including the Laura Clay Award and the UK CAFE Human Environmental Sciences Centennial Laureate Award.