Mercer Stays Connected On Social Media During Coronavirus Crisis

Mercer County Intermediate School Counselor Amy Riley performs an “experiment” suggested by her students—dropping Mentos into Diet Coke—during a video she posted online. (Image submitted.)

Jennifer Marsh

Herald Staff

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Social media is thriving in Mercer County following the stay at home advisory from local, state and federal government. From online sermons to how-to videos from, social media is the way to stay connected amid the COVID-19 crisis.

The Harrodsburg Herald is hosting videos from a variety of sources to encourage the new boom. Many are reviving their YouTube channels and repurposing them to stay connected to the community.

One example is Mercer County Intermediate School Counselor Amy Riley. She has had great success with her YouTube Channel, which she started a few months ago.

“At the time, my only purpose for this was to post videos online to show to classes I taught at MCIS or to get a message out to all classes at my school,” Riley said.

A couple of times a week, she posts short, lighthearted video that always include a counseling lesson. Since schools have canceled, she said her channel has grown in popularity.

“I literally went from six people who subscribed to my channel to almost 200 in a week’s time,” she said. One video, “Mrs. Riley Does Gymnastics,” has been viewed over 1,300 times, she said.

“These videos are made right from the comfort of my home and I have been amazed at the results,” she said.

Riley said she had no idea she would become so popular. She said she was motivated to post to stay in contact with her students.

“Most importantly, my students are commenting on my videos and sharing their ideas for future videos. In other words, they are communicating,” she said. “This simple act let’s me know they are OK. Just reading their comments and connecting with them has helped me and hopefully them as well.”

Riley said her students aren’t the only ones watching.

“An unexpected blessing from this whole project has been the number of adults who have reached out to me from Texas, Ohio, Virginia and closer to home saying how much they appreciate my videos,” she said

One parent shared that she works at a doctor’s office and on her lunch hour watches Riley’s videos.

“She said that in the midst of the sadness of her job, she looks forward to seeing something silly like putting Mentos into Coke,” Riley said.

She plans to continue her videos as long as her students aren’t able to stop by her office.

“This time has been challenging for everyone, but I am encouraged by how much closer I feel to some of my students even though I can’t physically see them,” said Riley. “We are bombarded with messages of doom and gloom. If I can act silly by singing a country song while dressed like Dolly Parton and get a little life lesson in at the same time, then I have accomplished my goal.”

For more information, follow Riley’s YouTube channel by searching Amy Riley-School Counselor.

Riley isn’t the only rising social media star of Mercer County. The Mercer County Cooperative Extension office has also started a YouTube Channel according to Luci Hockersmith, extension agent for family and consumer sciences.

“The Kentucky Nutrition Education Program has a YouTube channel with over 60 videos already. We also like to direct people to the website PlanEatMove.com,” said Hockersmith.

She said the websites are state-supported resources for public access.

“Please know that main UK channels will only be sharing COVID-19 updates until further notice and we have been asked to share messages from verified, research-based sites like obviously the CDC and even other land-grant institutions,” said Hockersmith. “Locally, the Mercer County Extension Office also has a YouTube Channel and Facebook page. Most program specific information will be shared on those specialty pages.”

Videos from the extension office will also be shared on the Harrodsburg Herald website.

“I have been given permission to produce a series of videos involving children in the kitchen, which will feature my own children in my own kitchen,” said Hockersmith. “The first recipe we recorded preparing is macho muffins and is available on the Herald website or on the Extension Office’s Facebook page.”

Many local churches have also leaned on social media to hold remote services.

To find an organization or church search their name on the Facebook or YouTube website.

Many local pastors have recorded special encouraging words specially for the Harrodsburg Herald website.

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