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Educational attainment

Engage children and adults in lifelong learning to increase their educational attainment.

4-H’ers teach kids how science can help feed the world


Brenda Pineda, left, explains the strawberry DNA experiment to participants in the Biotech to Feed the World workshop. Pineda, a 4-H Congress ambassador, took a biotechnology training class to prepare for a leadership role in the workshop.

Brenda Pineda and Tinaira Tieuel stand in front of a classroom, teaching 30 students how to build DNA structures using candy. 4-H’ers Pineda and Tieuel are teaching “Biotech to Feed the World,” a workshop in which students learn the importance of using biotechnology to reduce hunger as the world population continues to grow.

“Most people in the U.S. don’t understand that people in other countries worry about how they’re going to eat every day,” said Tieuel, a St. Louis County 4-H’er. “So with biotechnology, we’re trying to inform people and help them grow more food so they can eat just like we can.”

Biotechnology applies biological science to the advancement of engineering, medicine, agriculture and food technology. Biotechnologists manipulate and transfer the genes of organisms to produce a desired trait in certain plants and animals.

Pineda and Tieuel are part of a group of 4-H Ambassadors from around the state who are teaching other young people about biotechnology. They will take what they learned at the state congress and create science lessons for others in their 4-H clubs back home.

The biotech workshop was part of the State 4-H Congress on the University of Missouri campus. MU Extension 4-H’ers ages 14 to 19 participated in educational workshops.

During the session, young people participated in activities such as extracting DNA from straw­berries using rubbing alcohol, dishwashing detergent and other household items, and building DNA models out of licorice and gumdrops.


A Biotech to Feed the World participant pours rubbing alcohol into a test tube to extract strawberry DNA.

Donna Garcia, MU Extension 4-H urban youth development specialist, hopes the program will get more people interested in biotechnology. “One of the concerns with biotechnology, of course, is being able to feed those who are underfed,” Garcia said. “We’re not taking a political stance, but what we are doing is examining biotechnology. If informed on biotechnology, kids will be able to form their own opinions on this issue.”

Pineda and Tieuel knew little about the need for biotechnology, but after taking the training courses the two were more than willing to teach others about it.

“We want urban youth to realize that it’s not just going to the store to get what you’re going to get, it’s a bigger process behind the materials and the food we get on a daily basis,” said Pineda, who is with Jackson County 4-H.

“One of the things that I really appreciate about this program is watching diverse groups of young people who don’t know each other, but they’re able to come together, work together towards a common goal,” Garcia said. “And to me, it has just been phenomenal to watch that happen.”


In FY 2013, the MU Conference Office collaborated with seven MU colleges and schools, 16 administrative units, five federal and state agencies, and 11 associations and entities to deliver 79 conferences that generated $3.15 million in gross revenue. These conferences were attended by 21,352 people, of whom 13,982 were Missourians. Conferences included the 4th Annual NanoFrontiers Symposium, a regional academic meeting bringing together the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Defense, and other government and industrial organizations. MU academic units worked with the MU Conference Office to hold conferences that included engineering, biomedical sciences, physics and nuclear science.


Missouri 4-H reached more than one in five Missourians ages 5 to 18 (276,921 young people) with a 4-H educational program, experience or activity.

$1.2 million

MU Extension’s Engineering Continuing Education program continued growing its Pollution Prevention (P2) program — a collaboration with the Missouri Environmental Assistance Center, the Environmental Protection Agency, MU’s College of Engineering and Missouri companies. Trained engineering interns are sent into Missouri companies to identify and analyze cost-effective ways to reduce energy costs.

Missouri companies who partner with the P2 program experience an annual, recurring cost savings of $1.2 million annually. The P2 program epitomizes MU Extension’s mission. It prepares the next generation, engages Missouri companies, conserves raw materials and natural resources, emphasizes occupational health and safety, and demonstrates problem solving at its best.


Nursing Outreach’s 6th Evidence-Based Practice on the Frontline conference in April 2013 attracted 96 nurses from Missouri, Kentucky and Illinois. This is one of the few conferences that targets staff nurses. Participants learned how to apply scientifically proven evidence to deliver high-quality health care to patients.


In addition to Nursing Outreach’s own educational activities, which served 2,905 nurses and other health care providers, another 1,182 nurses participated in co-sponsored multidisciplinary programs with MU Extension’s Continuing Medical Education program.


The Labor Education program works with leaders and members of workplace-based organizations across Missouri to help them develop skills to contribute to their organizations, to act effectively in the workplace and to be informed and active participants in their communities. Labor Education reached 1,217 participants through 48 courses and conferences.

Age 50+

During the winter of 2012–2013, crime seemed to surge in central Missouri. A student in MU Extension’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute suggested a course that would bring into our classrooms “Those who protect us by law.”

In response, the institute introduced an eight-week course that brought the police chief, county prosecutor, county public defender, circuit court judge, and director of the MU Extension’s Law Enforcement Training Institute into the classroom. These guest teachers displayed virtual dramatizations of crime scenes in the very same manner of the police academy — adding lengthy sessions about behaviors that make unsuspecting and uninformed citizens vulnerable. These top brass in law enforcement and the judiciary told it like it is in frightening detail.

Yet, what might have been anxiety-provoking in the newspaper or on TV proved empowering to our students age 50 and older.