News for employees, May 1, 2009

Legislative Day draws record crowd from extension network

MU Extension Web site
Sam Hawkins, center, receives a presidential service award from UM President Garry Forsee, right. Also pictured Ron Ritter, chair of the UM Alumni Alliance.

Legislative Day, April 22, drew 300-plus extension advocates to state Capitol in support of the University of Missouri. MU Extension’s group included 322 registered participants for the annual event, sponsored by the University of Missouri Alumni Alliance.

University alumni and supporters visited with legislators and encouraged support for the university’s legislative priorities as the session nears its end. Alliance members invited legislators to mix and mingle in the morning, then gathered in the rotunda to hear from UM System President Gary Forsee and Gov. Jay Nixon. Supporters also visited legislators throughout the day and encouraged support for the operating budget, capital projects, Access Missouri and other priorities.

At an awards banquet the night before, Sam Hawkins of Shelbina was one of five individuals who received a Presidential Citation for support of the university.

Hawkins chaired the state council from 2004-09. He has served on the Shelby County Extension Council intermittently since 1982 and was the first chair of the Northeast Regional Extension Council. In addition, he served as co-chair of the MU Extension County Council Leadership Development Committee and as a member of the MU Extension Business Development Advisory Board. Hawkins has been an active member of the UM Alumni Alliance since 1998.

QuarterlyTeamwork Award

Montgomery County staff bring kids in the kitchen;
take ag to classrooms and beyond

Montgomery County Clover Kids learn to make peanut butter play dough as part of the Kids in the Kitchen/Ag in the Classroom collaborative curriculum.
Montgomery County Clover Kids learn to make peanut butter play dough as part of the Kids in the Kitchen/Ag in the Classroom collaborative curriculum. Luella Fischer photo

When teaching, Tosha Mudd, nutrition program associate, would get questions about food production, and Luella Fisher, an MU agronomy student and 4-H community service assistant, would be asked about nutrition.

To the Montgomery County extension staff members, the obvious response to this regular occurrence was to team up and teach together. Mudd and Fisher combined the “Kids in the Kitchen” curriculum with the “Ag in the Classroom” materials Fisher developed under guidance from Rich Hoorman, EC agronomy specialist.

The combined curriculum, which debuted in 2007, earned the trio a Quarterly Teamwork Award.

Last year, Kids in the Kitchen/Ag in the Classroom reached 750 students in kindergarten through sixth grade. Wellsville-Middleton R-1 Principal Pete Nasir said his students talk animatedly about the lessons and are open to trying new foods.

Mudd and Fisher also have taken their program to Clover Kids picnics, county fairs, camps, United Way carnivals and back-to-school events. The program has created growing demand for Family Nutrition Education Programs during the school year and has increased interest in 4-H club membership. One club leader reported membership doubling in 2008.

eXtension issues state usage report

A new eXtension reports shows that Web site usage among Missourians is increasing with 21,900 visits during 2008, more than four times the number of visits in 2007.

New visitors accounted for nearly 80 percent of the traffic from Missouri last year, according to the report. In addition, people are viewing an average of three pages per visit.

“This reveals that eXtension is of value to many within our state,” said Michael Ouart, MU vice provost and director of extension. “I also noted that many in the urban areas are finding their way to our site.”

Visitors to the Web site came from 591 cities, with the heaviest traffic originating from Columbia, St. Louis, St. Ann, Springfield, Kansas City and Warrensburg since the site opened to the public in February 2007.

MU Extension faculty have authored nearly 1,600 FAQs since content development started in 2006. More than 250 people from MU have eXtension IDs, and 68 individuals are involved in 20 of the communities of practice that are developing content.

“As a state, we have much to contribute to eXtension. Many of your colleagues continue to be actively involved in this initiative, and we are proud of their work in this area,” Ouart said. “I am excited about the opportunities that eXtension affords us as we continue to add value to our state and to our local extension programs.”

eXtension State and Institutional Reports

Extension Energy News

Do you walk the talk? Tell GREEN

By Don Day

The Green Regional Energy Extension Network is working to create a multi-state program focused on developing teams to deliver economic, social and environmental education to achieve resource sustainability. Extension professionals from Iowa State University and the University of Missouri are working together on this effort.

In the April 2008 Journal of Extension, the National Network of Sustainable Living Educators issued a call for sustainable living education, stating:

"Extension must become the model for others to emulate.  We have to walk our talk. Extension staff members will ‘learn by doing’ as we green our own lifestyles, offices, campuses and 4-H camps. As a result, we will radically shrink our ecological footprint and visually demonstrate the knowledge and practices we are teaching.”

GREEN is conducting a survey of sustainable living actions at MU Extension offices are doing. Please take the a moment to complete a short survey on how your office walks the talk.

GREEN will use the data to compile a baseline develop initiatives that can be used to promote MU Extension as a leader in sustainable living. Stay tuned for more information about GREEN in upcoming newsletters.

Walk the Talk Survey

Energy Summit

T. Boone Pickens was the very interesting keynote speaker at the Missouri Energy Summit, April 22 and 23, in Columbia. He made some very good points about the need for an energy plan.

There were many informative sessions and energy-related displays. We had posters describing the energy education and research going on at the University of Missouri. I have two posters describing our extension energy efforts. They are available to you if you have a need for displays.

I would encourage you to take a look at the abstracts and presentations.

Missouri Energy Summit


Jennings receives teaching award

Marcie Jennings

Marci Jennings, MU Extension equine specialist, received a 2009 Excellence in Education Award, which recognizes MU educators who support and value co-curricular learning.

MU Division of Student Affairs sponsors the awards to recognize faculty members, advisers and academic administrators who have made significant contributions to the out-of-class learning experiences of MU students and who have demonstrated a long-standing commitment to student learning and personal development.

KBIA reporters sweep SPJ Region 7 radio awards

KBIA has been recognized with several awards from the Society of Professional Journalists for Region 7. KBIA student reporters swept the awards in the four radio categories, earning nine awards in News Feature, In-Depth Reporting, News Reporting and Sports Reporting. Each of the four first-place winners, Robby Berlin, Kyle Stokes, Katherine Wolf, and Alex Swoyer will move on to the national competition.

These most recent awards have come on the heels of the announcement of KBIA’s five Murrow Award winners earlier this month.

KBIA, is a National Public Radio station at MU that reports to MU Extension. The station covers a 60-mile radius around Columbia as well as Kirksville and can be heard via the web on live streaming audio. The news department covers state and local news in cooperation with the MU School of Journalism, providing a hands-on lab for students.

Drum roll, please

Extension launches new Web site today

Following three years of planning, designing and building, a final intense week of review and modifications, and a late night at the office for a few members of the Web team, the MU Extension Web site launched today.

“Creating a customer-focused Web site was a tremendous challenge, and the Web team has done an outstanding job that reflects positively on all of us,” said Michael Ouart, MU vice provost and director of extension. “I look forward to the continued enhancement of our Web site as we strive to create value for the citizens of Missouri."

The process began in April 2006 at which time it was decided that the site needed a major reorganization rather than simply a new look. A driving force throughout the process was that all concepts go through usability testing.

“A major challenge was identifying the tasks that visitors to the site want to accomplish, so that we could develop relevant usability tests,” said George Laur, director of publishing and Web development. “Input from internal and external users early in the process helped get us started.”

The Web team worked closely with the Information Experience Laboratory in the School of Information Science and Learning Technologies at MU, which specializes in Web usability. Additionally, more than 30 MU Extension employees participated in usability sessions, focus groups or input meetings.

Sanda Erdelez, faculty advisor to the research group at the IE Lab, said that the process used to develop the new site could be used as a “book example” of how usability testing should be used in Web site development.

“It was a team effort right down to the finish line,” Laur said “The site requires a real mix of old and new technology to keep everything functioning. When we began turning on some of the new technology, it didn’t want to play as well with the old as we’d planned. Kate Akers, DeeAnna Adkins and John Myers were brilliant in coming up with solutions.”

Development of county and program Web pages will continue through the summer. For now, faculty and staff should keep checking their events on the calendar and keep profiles up-to-date —instructions are linked from the staff page. For now, county pages will be maintained as usual with MS FrontPage.

If your picture in the directory is missing, or you appear younger than reality, please send Kate Akers an updated photo. If you need a new photo, you’re encouraged to contact Steve Morse to arrange a time to take your picture during your next visit to campus.

Nominations open for Master Farmer Award

The second year of the Master Farmer Awards program has begun. The program, coordinated by MU Extension and Missouri Ruralist magazine, is accepting applications through July 1 to recognize top-notch producers. Four individuals will be selected.

"This program recognizes farmers who have not only been successful in farming, but who are also assets to their communities and to agriculture," said Ron Plain, MU Extension economist. "This is not meant to be a lifetime achievement award but to recognize currently active farmers."

Master Farmer Applications

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.