MU Extension draws on the body of research and knowledge created by the state’s flagship university to extend educational opportunities to every corner of the state. Education is the central idea behind the original act of Congress that created land-grant universities more than a century ago. Nearly everything extension does is an educational endeavor, whether that means giving young people their first glimpse into a career in a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) field or providing training opportunities to keep Missouri’s workforce up-to-date on the latest practices in their industry.
For more than a century, MU Extension has enriched school education with a variety of 4-H clubs, programs and activities. Programs have evolved with the times to respond to new challenges, such as the growing demand for STEM professions. Missouri 4-H provided STEM education opportunities for more than 62,000 students in 2015. Those efforts reached children in the classroom, at national competitions, on farms and even on the university campus.
The annual Dairy Cow Camp is one such farm excursion that allows schoolchildren to explore careers in the dairy industry. “I love watching kids learn and grow, especially in agriculture,” said Gabrianna Gardner, a Cow Camp volunteer and former participant. “We need more kids in agriculture because agriculture is our future.” Gardner added that the camp helps pass the baton to young people who will become the next generation of farmers.
Extension’s commitment to expanding educational opportunities extends well beyond grade school, too. The 4-H Youth Futures program helps make college an attainable goal for underserved young people by providing a dedicated adult mentor and on-campus experiences. 4-H continues to demonstrate commitment not only to helping young people while they’re in the program, but ensuring they have the tools they need to succeed after they have moved on to higher education.
Before the program, nearly half of participants were uncertain about going to college. After participating in Youth Futures, participants reported outstanding results. In the words of one participant, "Youth Futures is the reason I’m in college today. I don’t know where I would have been without it. I just would not have known what to do or who I could be today.”
now plan to pursue a college degree after high school
learned where to find financial assistance for college
learned who to consult for help applying to colleges
now have a firmer understanding of how to get to college
In the same way 4-H gives young people tools and resources to explore future careers, other MU Extension programs offer those in the workforce opportunities for professional growth and development. Each program, initiative and project discussed in this report are the result of research and work conducted by MU Extension faculty, staff and specialists. But at the core of all of those programs, initiatives and projects is the idea that Missourians need not come to campus to benefit from that research.
Programs such as Nursing Outreach and MU FRTI; initiatives such as Frank Wideman's in Fredericktown to map local fire hydrants; and projects such as Bob Broz’s atrazine runoff prevention — when it comes down to it, these are all educational efforts. Each in its own way exemplifies how MU Extension honors its land-grant mission.
The average age of a farmer in Missouri is 56, meaning the state is on the verge of a significant transfer of farm ownership as the current generation nears retirement. MU Extension specialists developed a curriculum called Your Farm, Your Business, Your Future to educate farm owners how to manage and plan an estate to ensure a smooth transition to the next generation of farmers.
The 4-H Youth Futures program won a $660,000 grant from the USDA this year to expand staff and resources to St. Louis and Jefferson counties, with an emphasis in Jefferson on homeless young people. The grant also allows the program to expand to reach more young people this year. There are plans to expand further still when Missouri 4-H reapplies for the grant next year.
Each summer, middle and high schoolers from around Missouri descend on the university for Summers @ Mizzou, a five-day camp that gives students a chance to learn from some of the leading researchers on campus in an atmosphere that promotes creativity, imagination and innovation. Students have had opportunities to learn about building a business, filmmaking, careers in health care and, recently, exploring the arts as a means of understanding and communicating the complexity of science.