top of page
  • KentuckianaSCI

Cook Wild Kentucky

Jann Knappage, Food System Specialist,

University of Kentucky,

Nutrition Education Program (NEP)

The overall goal of Cook Wild Kentucky is to increase food access through wild game consumption, and to make wild game recipes nutritious and delicious, using ingredients accessible in all or most Kentucky counties. This program plays off the Kentucky traditions of hunting, fishing and foraging to supplement family meals.

Cook Wild Kentucky (CWKY) was created after an ordinary, everyday phone conversation between The University of Kentucky’s Nutrition Education Program (NEP) and Feeding Kentucky. At the time, some of Kentucky’s food pantries were struggling to pass out the donated ground venison they were receiving from Kentucky Hunters for the Hungry. Not all food pantry participants were familiar with preparing ground venison and were intimidated by the idea of giving it a try. Feeding Kentucky was curious if NEP was able to create simple, nutritious ground venison recipes that the food pantries could handout, alongside the meat. Recipe creation is an integral part of the work NEP does, so creating recipes around wild game seemed like a logical way for NEP to help encourage increased food access through wild game consumption. When creating recipes, NEP follows the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and aims to make each recipe nutritious, delicious and easy to make.

CWKY has since grown into a multifaceted program and has increased its partners to include: Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resource (KDFWR), Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA) and Kentucky Hunters for the Hungry (KHFH). UK departments be-yond NEP that have partnered to grow and expand CWKY include: Forestry, Meat Sciences, Family & Consumer Science Extension and Horticulture.

To date, the program has created and published 34 wild game recipes. These recipes include: venison, fish, turkey, dove, duck, turtle, frog legs, beaver, squirrel, and rabbit. The recipe creation process happens in several steps.

1.)Research existing recipes, send out a “call for recipes” and/or find recipes for meat that is similar to the wild game we are focused on and make adaptations to fit our needs.

2.)Preliminary nutrition analysis and adaptations to fit Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

3.)Preliminary taste test and review

4.)Modifications made to recipe

5.)Secondary nutrition analysis to reflect any recipe modifications

6.)Secondary taste test and recipe photoshoot

7.)Final recipes and photos sent to editor and layout and design

8.)Printed and published

9.)Distributed to county extension offices, as well as partner organizations

Alongside the recipes, CWKY includes extension agent trainings, a wild game publication series and a foraging publication series. Since February 2020, NEP and KDFWR have trained roughly 230 extension personnel in both the Field to Fork and Hook and Cook Programs. The goal of these trainings is that individual county extension teams will turn around and host one or both of these KDFWR programs in their counties as well as increasing beginning hunter and angler knowledge and expanding the reach that KDFWR programs have within the state.

There are two CWKY publications published and currently available to the public: NEP-229: Introduction to Wild Game in Kentucky and NEP- 230: A Beginner’s Guide to Fishing in Kentucky. There are several other publications currently in draft form going through the editing process: A Beginner’s Guide to White Tailed Deer, A Beginner’s Guide to Foraging Wild Greens Part 1 and A Good Harvest Guide for Foraging in Kentucky.

On top of the trainings we host and the resources we create at the state-level, individual counties are putting on CWKY programming all over the state. From hosting Field to Fork and Hook and Cook programs to organizing hunts focused on venison donation to hosting recipe demonstrations and taste tests. The enthusiasm for these programs only seems to increase year after year.

NEP and its partners are excited to see where the next few years take Cook Wild Kentucky and the programming that surrounds it. We are excited to see new partnerships arise and new resources developed.

Cook Wild Kentucky recipes available here:

For more info about the Nutrition Education Program:


bottom of page