News for employees, Aug. 1, 2009

Revenue generation and fee standardization
critical to MU Extension’s future

Current financial projections predict major stress on county, state and federal budgets through the next five years. Increasing revenue from other sources is key to maintaining and growing MU Extension programs that are reliable, responsive and relevant.

We choose this path so we can retain and recruit quality faculty and staff with competitive salaries, while maintaining the capacity to deliver high-quality programs Missourians need now and in the future. Fee standardization is the next step in the process.

Fees are critical to MU Extension’s ability to grow, better serve a diverse public, remain important to economic development in the state, and improve the health and well-being of Missouri children and families. Current revenue-generating programs will not lose any present revenues.

The new fee standardization and collection program will generate new revenues and ensure that MU Extension has the ability to grow programs and create more competitive salaries.

The fees standards will:

Our fee standardization program will be phased in over three years, and will be evaluated and made better through the input of faculty, staff, councils and stakeholders.

Rhonda Gibler, assistant vice provost-management; Mark Stillwell, CM Region director, and I discuss this topic in more detail in a video we made for you and placed online. I invite you to watch the video and review the materials on Fee Standardization and Revenue Generation.

— Michael Ouart, MU Vice Provost and Director of Extension

Quarterly Teamwork Award winner

Students drink up knowledge at water festivals in NW Missouri

Fourth-graders learn about adaptations in nature during a Water Awareness Festival held earlier this spring.Fourth-graders learn about adaptations in nature during a Water Awareness Festival held earlier this spring.

Water Awareness Festivals have become a tradition for elementary students in northwest Missouri. The annual festivals, held each spring, give students classroom and hands-on experience to learn about their environment.

The water festival program team received the Quarterly Extension Teamwork Award for this long-standing named program. The curriculum development team includes Beverly Maltsberger, community development specialist; Meridith Berry, information technology specialist; Shawn Deering, livestock specialist; and Shaun Murphy, 4-H specialist.

The Water Festival Awareness curriculum, a named extension program, was designed in collaboration with local teachers to meet state educational objectives.

“It is important for youth to understand water quality, nonpoint source pollution and types of erosion, not only because it is important to our environment,” said Beverly Maltsberger, NW community development specialist. “but because these concepts are presented in the science MAP tests.”

Maltsberger organized the first water festival in Buchanan County in 2002. Now, schools in 10 counties participate in the events, which involve other regional faculty and staff, as well as state and local environmental agencies.

Pre- and post-tests consistently demonstrate statistically significant increase in knowledge. Originally targeted to third-graders, the team redesigned the curriculum for fourth-graders with eight interactive modules.

“The four of us met during a blizzard one day and hammered out all of the specific lesson content,” Maltsberger said. “We then did training for the other staff who agreed to teach a learning station.”

At the festivals, each student is given a handbook that has a page for each activity. “They have to do a hypothesis before doing the activity and then determine if their hypothesis is correct,” Maltsberger said.

In addition to testing the students, teachers are surveyed to get input on the learning experiences and provide anecdotal evidence on the knowledge gained by their students. Teachers consistently cite the benefits of the hands-on activities to reinforce the educational objectives. One teacher from Mercer County wrote: “The most beneficial part was hearing the same vocabulary and illustrations to reinforce what I had taught in the classroom.”

Extension Energy Initiative

Farm Foundation conference explores need
for extension involvement in energy education

I recently attended the Farm Foundation Transition to a Bioeconomy: The Role of Extension in Energy, which was designed for extension faculty. The conference, which brought together many people working in the energy field,  made me even more convinced that we need to develop extensive energy education programs in extension.

Duane Acker, president emeritus of Kansas State University, gave a talk on the expectations of extension. Acker is a member of the 25 by 25 Committee, which envisions that by 2025, America’s farms, ranches and forests will provide 25 percent of energy consumed in the United States, while continuing to produce safe, abundant and affordable food, feed and fiber; and maintaining and enhancing the natural resource base.

Acker pointed out that extension should know the energy territory and think tradeoffs. There are winners and losers in most issues. We should list all the potential extension audiences and tap the knowledge resources university-wide. He cautioned us to not let our structure interfere with where we go to get our resources.

He said we should use the extension model: look at the alternatives and likely consequences and explain those to our audiences so they can make informed decisions.

Charles Stenholm, a former Texas congressman, told us that research, extension and public policy must go together.

In general, I felt like we are coming along with our energy education about as much as anyone. We need to organize our efforts more and have more visibility. The conference showed me that we still have many unknowns in the energy field.

Above all, we need to teach how we can be more efficient in our energy use. We need to be aware of public policy and teach our citizens how they can be more involved in development of policy.  We also need to bring communities together.

I think extension is better positioned to bring the players together, so we need to be sure we are aware of the facts and always provide research-based, unbiased information. We are not in the business of making decisions for our clientele. We are in the business of giving them sound information they need to make informed decision.

Matt Herring, EC agronomy/natural resources specialist, also attend the conference and offered these thoughts: “There is much effort in the energy arena, but to understand where we need to get on the bus, we probably need to keep in mind our resources and needs. Wind energy makes sense in northwest Missouri, but may not in much of the rest of Missouri. Biomass for energy production is exciting, but technology needs to progress to make it viable. Energy costs vary around the state and this could also play a role in whether a technology is adopted.”

Conference materials are available online, and I encourage those that are interested to take a look.

— Don Day, energy extension associate

Committee seeks nominations for extension awards

The Fellowship and Awards Committee is soliciting nominations for MU Extension’s performance awards for individual and group achievements and for professional development

Eleven different awards will be presented during the Missouri Galaxy Conference. Extension professional associations will host the event in the fall. Performance awards to be presented during the conference:

Professional development awards from Pat and Tom Buchanan, and Dr. Ronald J. Turner endowments also will be presented.

Nominations and supporting materials must be postmarked by Aug.28.

Muscle aging can be prevented, reversed

Muscle aging can be prevented, reversed

Slowing down and becoming less active as we age creates a vicious circle. The less activity, the more muscle we lose; making daily activities like getting dressed, driving, shopping, cooking, and climbing stairs more challenging. However, there's one extremely effective way to respond to this aging process.

Exercise can slow down and even reverse this muscle loss, and it works no matter how old you are, or your physical condition. Debbie Johnson has more.

Volunteer for MizzouCentral

Volunteers are needed to staff MizzouCentral, at the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia both weekends, opening day Aug. 13, and Military Appreciation Day Aug. 18.

Volunteers are especially needed in the mornings from 8:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. Afternoon shifts, from 1-5:15 p.m. also are available.

Volunteers will be reimbursed for admission and mileage, and will receive a $10 voucher for food from select vendors.

To volunteer, contact Vicki Bach.

UMEA seeking nominations for three award categories

UMEA has an opportunity for you to recognize your coworkers' hard work in the past years. The organization is seeking award nominations for Meritorious Service, Innovator and Rookie of the Year.

The Meritorious Service Award will be given to outstanding extension professionals who have been with extension for the past five years. The Innovator Award recognizes novel programming by UMEA members, while the Rookie of the Year Award recognizes outstanding achievement by a new extension faculty member.

Nominations are due Sept. 4, and awards will be presented at the 2009 Galaxy Conference in November.

Nomination forms

Contributions to UM Retirement, Disability and Death Benefit Plan begin

University of Missouri employees began making contributions to the retirement, disability and death benefit plan. Employee contributions apply to compensation accumulated after July 1.

UM System administrators made employee contributions mandatory to help keep the plan fiscally sound into the future.

Contributions for employees who are paid monthly began July 31. Biweekly employees will begin making contributions with their Aug. 5 paychecks.

All contributions will be made on a pre-tax basis and will be identified on your pay advice statements as "UNIV Retirement in the Before-Tax Deductions" section.

Faculty and Staff Benefits

New tool allows quick verification of employment status and income

Employees applying for a new job, a loan or a credit card now have an easy way to verify employment and income.

It’s called “the Work Number.” Jennifer Hollingshead spoke with Linda Koch, director of human resource systems administration, to learn more about this new tool in the weekly UM System podcast.


MU Extension Insider is published on the first and 15th of each month for MU Extension faculty and staff. Send comments to Editor, Eileen Yager.