Year Inducted: 

Jewell Ellis

Jewell Deene Ellis was born in Boyle County, the oldest of 11 children. In addition to working on the family farm, Ellis helped her mother care for her younger siblings and with household chores. While participating in 4-H youth development activities, Ellis spent a week at the University of Kentucky and decided she wanted to continue her education there.

She earned her bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in vocational home economics education in 1951 and 1958, respectively. Ellis considered becoming a county extension agent, but chose teaching instead, beginning what would become a 57-year career in education.

While at Nicholas County High School from 1951 to 1960, Ellis developed a reputation for innovative practices, both inside and outside of the classroom. Over those nine years, she supervised more than 30 student teachers. In 1960, she left secondary education to become a traveling teacher-trainer for Murray State University. As a liaison with the Kentucky Department of Education, she supervised Western Kentucky home economics education programs and coordinated a statewide curriculum project, her first of four.

In 1971, she moved to the Kentucky Department of Education, where she advanced to the role of director of the home economics unit the very next year. Subsequently, Ellis took on a wider role in vocational education for the state, serving in a variety of leadership roles until her retirement in 2008.

Among her many accomplishments, she was on the team that developed the first national standards for family and consumer sciences education. She was also co-founder of the Family and Consumer Sciences Education Coalition, an advocacy and public policy alliance.

Ellis is a School of Human Environmental Sciences Hall of Fame member, UK Fellow, HES Centennial Laureate and a Fort Harrod Area Ag & HES Alumni Association Lifetime Achievement Award recipient. Additionally, she has received the Carl Perkins Humanitarian Award from the American Vocational Association, Kentucky FFA Association Distinguished Service Award and the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences Distinguished Service Award.

She continues to be an advocate for her profession, a UK supporter and a mentor to countless professionals. Ellis, of Danville, and her family have established two endowed scholarships in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. She is active in the Forkland Community Center, Forkland Heritage Festival and Review and has served on many boards and committees and held numerous leadership roles.