Butler County Program Director Phyllis Flanigan, left, and local resident Laura Newcomb-Hagood discuss the county council election with Vice Provost and Director Michael Ouart as he staffs the MU Extension booth Jan. 22 at the Poplar Bluff Ag Expo. The event, organized by the Butler County extension council and the Three Rivers Community College Ag Club, attracted some 10,000 area residents, who were treated to educational seminars, exhibits, contests and entertainment. Newcomb-Hagood learned after the event that she had been elected to a term on the council Dolores Shearon photo/MU Extension Marketing
To support communications at the local level, stakeholder relations materials have been consolidated into a single online source for budgets and resource allocation, communication strategies and local-support data.
“January 2009 taught us that ongoing education of stakeholders and council members is essential for our future,” said Beverly Coberly, director of off-campus operations.“The turnover in leadership of councils, commissions, and state and federal legislators, along with the exceptionally tight fiscal environment, means stakeholder communications is no longer optional.
“Every one of us must inform stakeholders about what our program efforts and outcomes are,” she said. "Our future depends on our ability to deliver high-quality programming and to ensure that decision makers and partners understand the public value of our programming.”
Since last July, a stakeholder relations committee has been developing a coordinated communications plan to support faculty, staff and council members. The committee identified several strategies to strengthen relationships with extension stakeholders.
Beginning with the FY2010 program plan, regional faculty members and program assistants/associates have been asked to educate a county council member and a legislator or county commissioner about at least one program.
State specialists have been asked to assess current relationships with stakeholders — particularly those dealing with the faculty member’s academic area, work with policymakers on issues of concern and involve legislators in program events as appropriate.
County program directors are expected to ensure that council training and development takes place annually. “Council members are representatives of the people we serve and are a vital link in the community, so they need to understand MU Extension’s structure and where they fit. They also need to know about our programs and what regional faculty members do,” Coberly said.
To create awareness with decision makers, regional program showcases and legislative updates are being held across the state. The stakeholder relations committee developed resources to facilitate those events as ongoing activities.
“With increasing stresses on budgets, our ability to communicate the value of MU Extension programs in a consistent manner is critical to continued funding from both public and private sources,” Coberly said.
Serving with Coberly on the Stakeholder Relations Committee: Paul Rainsberger, labor education director; Mark Stillwell, Cooperative Media Group interim director; Karma Metzgar, NW Region director; Soneeta Grogan, NE Region director; Bud Reber, EC Region director; Mary Leuci, community development program director; Tony DeLong, county council coordinator; Sandy Stegall, constituent relations director; Debbie Ricker, administrative associate I; and Jim Snider, consultant and retired UM assistant vice president for governmental relations.
Others who participated in the process: Kara Lubischer, EC community development specialist; Tim Seibert, SW urban program specialist; Meridith Berry, NW Region information techology specialist; Charles St. Clair, WC community development specialist; Linda Rellergert, EC nutrition and health specialist; Debby Whiston, NE family financial education specialist; Sherry Nelson, NE human development specialist; Marsha Alexander, WC environmental design specialist; Cynthia Crawford, CM family financial education specialist; Kate Akers, Web programmer analyst; DeeAnna Adkins, Web program coordinator; George Laur, Web and publications director; Carl Allison, state council vice chairman; Kenny Lovelace, Marion County council member; and Sherri Kempf, Cooper County council member.
County offices will have two options for accepting credit-card payments beginning this summer. Detailed information will be distributed to county offices and regional directors for discussions with councils.
“Accepting credit cards has become a standard business practice and will benefit our customers,” said Callie Glascock, administrative manager.
Quickbooks Merchant and the MU Off-Campus Credit Card System, being developed by Extension Technology and Computer Services, are the choices available to county offices.
“Each option is structured a little differently, so we want faculty to have time to discuss the choices with county councils before making a selection,” Glascock said.
Quickbooks Merchant is an add-on service to the county accounting system and will allow counties to retain revenues locally. Participating counties would be required to have a contract and merchant ID. Monthly charges and minimums as well as transaction fees would apply.
MU Extension would reimburse counties for monthly charges for the first year. “This will allow time to assess volume and feasibility,” Glascock said.
The MU Off-Campus Credit Card System would use a single merchant ID held centrally by MU Extension. Funds would be deposited into an MU Extension account and distributed to counties each month, Glascock said. MU Extension would cover monthly fees and minimums.
In both options, counties would be responsible for any transaction fees.
Glascock and John Myers, ETCS director, co-chaired the credit card committee, which was part of MU Extension’s examination for fee standardization and revenue generation. Committee members included Katie Cook, Buchanan County office support; Vanessa Miller, Adair County office support; Debbie Davis, NW 4-H youth specialist; Max Glover, NE plant science specialist; Susan Henson, WC business development specialist; Scott Killpack, EC agronomy/natural resource specialist; Nellie Lamers, Tri-Lakes TCRC interim coordinator; Emily Mangano, MU Conference Office administrative associate; Laura Wemhoener, SC Region administrative associate; Mark Stewart, CM Region interim director; Johanna Reed Adams, state community development specialist; Paula Hudson, ETCS database programmer/analyst; Jo Britt-Rankin, HES program leader; and Wesley Royer, Madison County council member.
"Understanding Complex Public Issues and Extension Roles Using the Animal Care/Livestock/Food Industry as an Example," March 2, will look at the programmatic, public policy, legislative and consumer issues currently surrounding the animal care/livestock/food industry. The ISE for MU Extension faculty and staff coincides with the University of Missouri Association of Alumni Association's annual Legislative Day in Jefferson City.
Th animal-welfare topic cuts across extension program areas and has implications on many levels, including the state’s economy, food security and safety, and community sustainability. The session will include an overview of the issues, extension's role and group discussions on the appropriate responses to clients, stakeholders and agencies.
Consistent with University President Gary Forsee’s directive to “severely curtail expenses” due to declining state revenues, several MU Extension professional development activities will not be held or will be limited this year.
No annual conference will be held in 2010. The Galaxy Conference, sponsored by the MU Extension professional associations with assistance from central administration, will take place in a two-day format, similar to 2009. There will not be a 2010 conference for MU Extension administrative associates (county office secretaries and other clerical staff). A reduced-cost Council to Campus event will be held in June, also with a format similar to last year. Mileage will not be paid for participating extension council members.
Faculty attendance at professional meetings will be limited to those who are on the program committee, or are presenting programs, scholarly papers or posters.
“Additional scrutiny is being given to all expenditures during this difficult budget time,” said Michael Ouart, vice provost and director. “It is our hope that at some point the budget will stabilize and we can return to having a more comprehensive professional development program. In the meantime, faculty and staff may take advantage of professional development opportunities through eXtension and other online sources.”
Have questions of about the fee policy? Rhonda Gibler, assistant vice provost-management, is hosting Adobe Connect conferences to help people navigate the new process:
Sign up by contacting Jeanne Miner.
MU Extension employees can boost their technology skills through the monthly ITV trainings, offered from 10 a.m. to noon on the fourth Tuesday of each month. Upcoming dates and topics:
Feb. 23 — Community Clips, a screen capture program
March 23 — Flickr for online photo sharing
April 27 — EDEN, the Extension Disaster Education Network
Sign up at least a week in advance by contacting your region’s TCRC.
Just a few weeks remain to nominate worthy faculty members for the C. Brice Ratchford Memorial Fellowship. Nominations are due March 2.
The award is given annually to a faculty member who makes significant contributions to the land-grant mission in extension, international education or agricultural economics.
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.