News for employees

MU Extension Insider
April 2, 2012


In the news

Upcoming events

Coming and going


MU Extension Insider is published on the first and 15th of the month. Send feedback and comments to Karen Dickey.

In the news

MU Extension annual report

Dear Colleagues:

This year – 2012 – is the 150th anniversary of the Morrill Act, which gave grants of land to states to establish institutions of higher learning that were to be open to ordinary citizens.  The purpose was to make the benefits of research-based science and technology accessible to farmers, homemakers, shopkeepers, young people and all those who make our nation’s democracy work. 

In these times of economic and social transition, the land-grant mission remains as vital as ever.  University of Missouri Extension continues to be a model among land-grant universities in connecting citizens with the research and knowledge they need to improve the economy and their quality of life.

The 2011 annual report highlights programs MU Extension provides through a networked delivery system involving every county of the state—programs that make a positive difference in the lives of clients/students and entire communities.  Here are a few examples:

Please take a moment to view our statewide annual report on the Web, and enjoy the embedded video clips at

Be sure to share what you learn in this year’s report with local stakeholders and friends.


Michael D. Ouart
Vice Provost and Director


Summer garden superstars: Warm-season vegetables

There is nothing that says summer like tasty tomatoes, succulent sweet corn and cool cucumbers. But don’t stop there. Vegetables that thrive in the heat of summer include green beans, eggplant, okra, peppers and squash.  Now that spring is officially here, it’s time to begin planning your summer garden, says David Trinklein, horticulture specialist. Debbie Johnson reports.


Lending a helping paw

PHARM Dog, the brainchild of AgrAbility specialist Jackie Allenbrand, connects farmers with disabilities to service animals. Video produced by Kent Faddis.

See also: Related news release by Roger Meissen.


Spirit Spark!

Although our Tigers left much too early, many of us still watched a lot of NCAA basketball the past few weeks. Why did we watch and why did they play? It comes down to motivation. The players and coaches are motivated by the dream of a national championship. For those of us watching, we may have been motivated by our love of the game, rooting for (or against!) certain teams, friendly wagers, etc.

From motivating ourselves to get out of bed in the morning, to motivating our children, clients, co-workers, employees, etc., we deal with motivation on a constant basis.  Let’s take a look at motivation in the context of this newsletter section – what is your “spark”?

S – Do you seize opportunities?
P – Do you have passion for what you do?
A – Do you have a positive attitude?
R – Do you do what is needed to realize your potential?
K – Do you have the keys to unlock what inspires you?

Team Spirit would like to know what the spark is in your extension career. Please take two minutes to follow this link to take the poll (only one question):

“Without inspiration the best powers of the mind remain dormant. There is a fuel in us which needs to be ignited with sparks.” —Johann Gottfried Von Herder (1744-1803)


Branding and Marketing team striving for impact

“One message, one voice, one look, resulting in recognition of MU Extension’s value by residents of Missouri and MU graduates” is the mantra of the Branding and Marketing (BAM) self-directed extension team.

“The MU Extension 'look' has changed over the years as new logos and tag lines have been adopted,” says Gordon Carriker.  Gordon points out that one of BAM’s goals is “to encourage local MU Extension centers to make sure there is one look by replacing dated logos and signage with the current.”

BAM has also developed two PowerPoint templates and encourages all faculty to convert their presentations to one of the two.

Earlier this year, the team proposed, and MU Extension administration approved, encouraging county extension centers to increase their MU Extension look by offering a cost-share on marketing items.  Prior to the 2012 CPD conference, CPDs were surveyed about potential new marketing items in hopes that more popular high-, middle- and low-cost goodies would be available to the local MU Extension centers. The team is also developing a short checklist for CPDs and council members to complete later this year to evaluate local office “image.”

It occurred to the team that MU graduates several thousand undergrads and graduate students who do not know that they can maintain contact with MU through their local MU Extension center, so a letter was drafted for Dr. Ouart that can be included in each graduate’s packet.

These are just some of the exciting things the BAM is doing to strive for impact.  If you think you would be interested in joining the BAM team, contact Gordon Carriker ( or any of the other team members.


High-Quality Beef ISE tours Kansas feed yards, and more

The annual bus trip to Kansas just got bigger. The ISE planned by Dave Patterson, beef reproduction specialist, and Scott Brown, beef economist, travels April 24-26. They’ll visit some of the best thinkers in the beef business.

The ISE visits two feed yards specializing in high-quality calves. Irsik & Doll at Garden City, Kan., feeds and markets calves from MU Thompson Farm, Spickard, and MU Greenley Center, Novelty. For the last three years, MU calves topped markets and won the Angus Carcass Challenge. AI breeding boosts quality.

Pratt Feeders in Pratt, Kan., feeds cattle from Missouri farmers. Along the way, the group hears Bill Haw, MU alum and former banker, who owns Flint Hills grazing land. He’s learned value of Show-Me-quality calves.

Stops include a seedstock producer and Certified Angus Beef at Manhattan. Together they’ll sponsor an award-winning chef to show grilling talents.

New this year, the ISE tours a beef-packing plant where quality grids boost premiums.

All this has drawn two busloads of Missourians, including beef industry leaders and regional livestock and ag business specialists. Specialists invited forward-thinking farmers.

On-bus seminars preview educational programs for the coming year. They’ll love the logic of this model.


Hickory County MU Extension Center has new address

The mailing address for the Hickory County MU Extension Center has changed from a post office box to a street address:

203 Cedar St., Hermitage, MO  65668


Just click "DELETE!"

Unfortunately, spam and phishing are a part of life for computer users, notes Steve Giesel, Extension Technology and Computer Services (ETCS):

Last week I received another phishing email in my inbox. Most of you probably did too. This one is more obvious in that there are no links in it to follow—the request for your personal information is up front and unvarnished.  The intent is for you to click “Reply” and answer within the email itself. The return email address and the lack of any specific addressee name is a dead giveaway about the (lack of) authenticity.

It goes without saying that you need to delete this kind of email immediately.  The university has a robust security system but it can’t catch them all.  Therefore you need to be your own first, best defense when you receive these scams.  No legitimate entity asks for your personal information to “keep your account active.”  Use your common sense and avoid phishing like the proverbial plague.  You can report scams to DOIT at  And have pity on your devoted ETCS staff.  You receive one email, but we see hundreds of them from people asking about their veracity.

I encourage you to stay up to date with the latest Inner Circuit post any time at  Additionally, you can find information about setting up an RSS feed/Alert to your inbox any time a new post is made to Inner Circuits.  The links below detail three separate ways to set up an RSS feed/Alert.

Happy computing.


Help find good examples of bad writing

Communications tip from Duane Dailey

From your inbox, if you find a paragraph of clotted language, clip and send it to me. If you read something once, then you must read it a second time, that’s what I want.

I’m reading a good book on how to simplify writing. Writing for clarity should be simple, but lots of writers miss the point. Those include administrators, politicians, lawyers, scientists and academics. Maybe some MU Extension workers write confusing sentences too. 

Pick examples close to what you do every day. Those could be most helpful.

As you start your treasure hunt, look for sentences that avoid active verbs. The author of this book raised my awareness of how many sentences contain “action words” that are not verbs. We turn nouns into words that pose as verbs and we turn verbs into non-verbs. I know. It gets confusing. But that’s what we must hunt down and eliminate.

Send your winners to Put “clotted clarity” in the subject line. Send snail mail to 3 Whitten Hall, MU, Columbia, MO 65211. Let’s communicate.


Stories with question leads get questionable answers

Writing tip by Duane Dailey

“The only answer to a question lead is, ‘Who the #$@& gives a @#&$!’”

I recall that lesson vividly. One of the best journalism professors at MU wouldn’t allow stories with question leads. Editors in newsrooms were plain-spoken back then.

He gave lots of reasons for not befuddling readers with question leads. The question is a trick of beginning writers, he said. If you must, then write the question. Write the answer. Then delete the question and use the answer for your lead.

That still makes sense to me. You may have to reframe the answer a bit, but you will end up with fewer words and a more interesting lead.

And there will be no frustrating question. Readers, my teacher said, don’t read a newspaper to take a test. They come looking for answers, not questions. I think he got it right.

Just look at well-edited newspapers and see how many question leads you find. I’ve been looking the last few days as I thought of this. I saw none. Let’s write stories in a style used by newspaper editors.


Upcoming events

Land prices: Hot topic for annual Breimyer Seminar

Lock in May 14 to take part in the MU Breimyer Seminar. It’s not just for agricultural business specialists, but for anyone working with farmers – or lenders.

“Midwestern farmland values are skyrocketing in response to record commodity prices and low interest rates,” says organizer Ron Plain, MU Extension agriculture economist. To many, that sounds like the land boom of the 1970s that ended in the farm crisis of the 1980s.

A dozen speakers will look at the intense interest in land a dozen different ways. Attendees get to take part. That’s the way Harold Breimyer planned them. The seminars continue in honor or the long-time USDA policy maker and MU professor of agricultural economics.

Economists from MU will be joined by speakers from Iowa State and Kansas State.

Last speaker of the day will be Daryl Oldvader, CEO, FCS Financial.

Joyce White says you must pre-register in advance, but can pay at the door. She needs a meal count! The fee is $30, which includes lunch and, more important, an MU parking tag. Let her know at or 573-882-6533. Registration at 9:15 a.m. Program at 9:45 a.m. Runs until 5 p.m.


Glenda Kinder retirement celebration

On April 20 there will be a reception honoring Glenda Kinder for 29 years of service as a nutrition and health education specialist with MU Extension in Clay County.

If you would like to attend, the reception is 4-6 p.m., Friday, April 20, at the North Kansas City Community Center, 1999 Iron St., North Kansas City, Mo.

If you cannot attend but would like to send a card or contribute to a retirement gift, please mail to:

Clay County MU Extension Center
Attention: Diana Milne
1901 NE 48th Street
Kansas City, MO 64118


Don't let $100 slip through your fingers

The deadline for employees enrolled in a UM medical plan to earn a $100 health incentive is rapidly approaching.   To earn this, you must complete a personal health assessment (about 15 minutes) and a health screening by April 30.

Steps to earning the $100 Wellness Incentive:

  1. Create your Cerner Health Account by visiting (if you have not already done so).
  2. Complete your personal health assessment.
  3. Schedule your FREE health screening by April 30.
    1. If on or near a campus, contact the campus wellness office or attend a large campus screening event.  For the Columbia campus Healthy for Life (wellness office), call 573-884-1312.
    2. If you have had an annual physical with cholesterol, glucose, height/weight, and blood pressure completed after July 2011, you can complete the “Doctor Screening Form” and fax it to the wellness adviser at 816-448-2118.  The form must be completed in its entirety to get the credit. You may download the form at
    3. MU Extension field personnel can also request a “Home Access Kit” by calling 866-352-4372 between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m., Monday through Friday.  The Home Access Kit allows you to collect a small blood sample from your finger and mail it to a certified laboratory for processing.
  4. If you have completed the above steps, it is recommended that you check your Cerner Health Account to make sure you have received the credit for the 100 points for the wellness incentive.  You should also check your Coventry account to insure the $100 has been credited (it can take up to 30 days for the funds to be transferred into your Coventry Account).   Instructions for checking the Coventry account are located at (for myChoice) or (for myOptions). If it does not appear the funds have been transferred into your account (and 30 days have passed since the assessment and screening), please contact Coventry directly (use the number on the back of your health insurance card). 


Second annual MU Extension Day with the Tigers

Mark your calendars for the second annual MU Extension tailgate event. This year's tailgate is prior to the Sept. 15 game with Arizona State. The event is a joint effort of Team Spirit and UMEA.  Right now, organizers are asking for volunteers to serve on the planning team. If you're interested, please contact Susan Mills-Gray at or 816-380-8460 no later than April 30.


Other dates to remember

April 3: UM Alumni Alliance Legislative Day,  Jefferson City.

May 12: The 11th annual 4-H Day with the St. Louis Cardinals. Ticket orders must be postmarked by April 2.

June 5-10: Summer Fire School and Midwest Wildfire Training Academy, Jefferson City.

June 12-15: Cambio de Colores (Change of Colors) - Latinos in the Heartland conference.

Oct. 29-31: 2012 Extension Annual Conference.


Coming and going

Please welcome

Carmen Brandt, CM 4-H youth development program associate.

Heather Hathaway, NE nutrition program associate.

Kelly Rich, NE nutrition program associate.



Julia Casteel, CM nutrition program assistant.

Sharon Yandell, SE nutrition program assistant.


Thinking of you

Our sympathy goes out to

The family of Winston Ewing, who passed away March 26 in Springfield at the age of 87. He was an MU Extension specialist for 25 years, working in Adair, Knox, Howell, Shannon, Texas and Oregon counties. 

The arrangements are under the direction of Greenlawn Funeral Home South in Springfield. Visitation will be at the funeral home at 6-8 p.m. on Tuesday, April 3. Graveside services will be 10 a.m., April 4 at the Morrisville Cemetery in Morrisville, Mo.


If you have items to include in future issues, please send them to Karen Dickey or Curt Wohleber in the Cooperative Media Group. If you have questions, contact Mark Stillwell, CMG interim director.