News for employees

MU Extension Insider
May 1, 2013


In the news

Upcoming events

Coming and going


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

In the news

Two new staff members join MU Extension communications office

A news writer and a social media editor have recently joined the staff of the MU Extension communications and marketing office, announces Dennis Gagnon, communications director.

Community newspaper veteran Linda Geist covers extension news in several areas including agriculture, human environmental science, 4-H youth and community development. For 15 years Geist owned, published and edited The Lake Gazette, a newspaper she founded in 1997 in Monroe City, Mo. After selling the paper she worked on a part-time basis with the extension communications office before accepting the full-time appointment last month. Geist, who also has worked at several daily newspapers around the state, received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from MU.


Maggie Berglund joined the communications office’s editing team a few weeks ago. Her responsibilities focus on social media applications within MU Extension. In addition to her science communication and multi-media reporting background, Berglund also taught high school biology for two years in Hayden, Colo. She has two master’s degrees—one in journalism from MU, the other in environmental education from Lesley University—and a bachelor’s degree biology from Colorado College.




Battle documentary wins award at KC Film Festival

Documentary film producers and MU Extension professionals Michael Hicks and Julie Middleton—along with two of their colleagues from MU, Juanamaria Cordones-Cook and Barbara Williamson—last month won the best documentary award in the Heartland category at the Kansas City Film Festival. The honor recognized their film Battle: Change from Within, which also recently won a Telly Award.

Julie Middleton"We were delighted with the film's reception,” said Middleton. "It was shown three times during the festival, as the first two showings sold out, requiring a third showing to accommodate all who wanted to see the film.”

The film is about public school educator Eliot Battle and the pivotal role he played in desegregating schools, housing and the Columbia, Mo., community.

"We really hope that extension faculty and staff will find opportunities to show the film in their communities,” said Middleton. “The curriculum/viewing guide that is available on the website may be used to assist educators in facilitating a rich conversation after the viewing. Although the film is about Columbia's journey to desegregation, it is really a story that probably occurred in every community in our country."



Recent moves relocate some extension offices on campus and in regions

The May 1 relocation of several members of the MU Extension communications and marketing office is the latest in a series of recent moves by some extension personnel on campus and in the state, reports Mark Stillwell, MU Extension space allocation project director.

In addition to the 11 writers and editors moving to Whitten Hall today, other recent moves include several extension offices relocating to a former Missouri Department of Conservation building at 1110 S. College Ave., Columbia. They include the staffs of the state 4-H youth program, the Missouri Fire and Rescue Training Institute, and Extension Technology and Computer Services.

Also, two regional directors recently relocated in their respective regions: Wayne Prewitt, director West Central Region, is now based in Suite #6, 1701 N. 2nd Street, Clinton, MO 64735; Mark Stewart, East Central Region director, has a new office at 1811 Highway 50 East, P.O. Box 559, Linn, MO 65051.

The Northwest Region’s FNEP office has moved to 607 A Lana Drive, Cameron, MO 64429.

In a move set for later this month, the Office of Social and Economic Data Analysis will move to space formerly housing MU FRTI in the Heinkel Building in Columbia, says Stillwell.



Extension bills take on additional agriculture proposals

“The Missouri House agri-business committee recently approved two different agriculture omnibus bills that both contain MU Extension’s county districting proposal, a UM legislative priority this year,” reports Marty Oetting, UM state government lobbyist.

“A committee substitute for Senate Bill 9, sponsored by Sen. David Pearce (R-Warrensburg), now contains a dozen additional agriculture proposals, but the extension language remains unchanged.”

In addition the committee also passed a substitute version of Senate Bill 342, sponsored by Sen. Mike Parson (R-Bolivar). It includes the extension language among other provisions. Both bills will need to be considered by the House rules committee before being reported to the floor, where they will be taken up by the full House.

The MU Extension bill making its way through the Senate, House Bill 202, sponsored by Rep. Bill Rieboldt (R-Neosho), is now on the Senate calendar awaiting floor debate. This follows recent approval by the Senate education committee. Both chambers approved the basic extension language by wide margins earlier in the session, says Oetting.



Nutrition education information now available via social media

MU Extension’s nutrition education efforts have been expanded to reach those audiences that tap into social media, according to Carrie Edwards, social media and marketing coordinator with MU’s College of Human Environmental Science.

The Family Nutrition Education Program (FNEP) is now on Facebook on two separate pages. MU Nutrition for Families ( was created to reinforce program information for Missouri’s adult audiences, specifically families. Live It! with MU ( is a source for teens involved in MU Extension nutrition education programs, and for teens everywhere who want to learn more about healthier living.

On the Twitter front, the FNEP messages can be followed and retweeted at

FNEP also has a Pinterest page at Followers will find boards and pins with ideas for healthier meals, kid-friendly recipes, information on food safety, gardening and nutrition, and holiday ideas (Mother’s Day, Easter, Cinco de Mayo), says Edwards.



MU Extension holds workshop for legislators at Capitol

Last month MU Extension specialists conducted a workshop at the Capitol for state legislators on decision and data support tools, according to Mary Leuci, MU Extension community development program director.

The half-day session is held each year to help legislators and their staffs learn about the latest trends in their districts by electronically accessing maps, charts, reports and data on economic, health, population and education trends in Missouri and their region. Conducting sessions during the workshop with Leuci were Tracy Greever-Rice, interim director of the social and economic data analysis office; Ted Gallion, coordinator of community issues management; and Judith Stallman, community development professor.

Mary Leuci and Rep. Randy Pike (R-Adrain)

Mary Leuci, MU Extension’s community development program director, assists Rep. Randy Pike (R-Adrian) in reviewing demographic information about his district.



Take the time to be brief on the radio

A communications tip from Duane Dailey

Extension specialists solve complex problems, but a radio news story is not the place to give all the details. Rob Kallenbach, MU ag extension forage specialist, has learned that radio reporters want a few words, not 20 minutes of background.

Monte Schisler, farm reporter at KRES radio, Moberly, told Rob that when he calls, he wants only five minutes of time. Max! He wants the story in about one minute of sound. From that he might use only 20 seconds.

Usually Monte calls after he’s read the MU Extension news release on Kallenbach’s work. He has the story. What he needs is a sound bite.

“That really makes you think about what you have done,” Kallenbach says. “You must tell the value of your work to the listener.”

Schisler says he tries to explain stories so that his dad, back on the farm near Macon, will understand. That reminds Kallenbach that he must think as though he’s talking to a state legislator. “You don’t get much time to explain why your work is worth taxpayer dollars.”

“This isn’t dumbing down,” Kallenbach adds. “It’s being clear and concise.” That takes thinking time.

“Radio news builds awareness. It’s not a time to teach how-to details.”



Retirees gather for spring meetings around the state

Retiree meeting with Jay Chism speaking

A series of meetings are being held this spring to update retirees on the latest developments regarding MU Extension. At one of the gatherings last month in Nevada, Southwest Region director Jay Chism (standing) reviewed recent changes in the region and throughout the state that help extension remain relevant, reliable and responsive. Leonard Ernsbargerand Calvin Jones helped arrange this meeting, one of four held throughout the state last month. Two more retiree sessions are set for early May.



Farmland values: Boom or bubble?

Low interest rates and record income per acre have driven farmland values much higher over the last decade. The increase has led to concerns of a repeat of the farm crisis of the 1980s.

“Back in the 1970s we got way above trend growth, and it looks like that is what is happening again,” said MU Extension agricultural economist Ron Plain. “Last year we were more than $500 per acre above trend for the average acre of Missouri farmland.”

The 1970s run-up of land values ended in the early 1980s with a collapse of farmland prices. While Plain says there is a possibility of a land price bubble in the future, a drop in farmland value today would not have the same catastrophic impact it had 30 years ago.

Read the complete article and view the video for additional details.



Stop eating when you’re stressed or bored; join Eat for Life Online

Discover the benefits of this innovative approach to weight management through MU’s Healthy for Life’s Eat for Life course.  This 10-week program uses mind-body practices (meditations and yoga), the principles of mindful and intuitive eating, skills training, and group support to guide you in making lifestyle changes that will help you create a healthier relationship to your food, mind, and body. If you have a history of chronic dieting, have rigid “healthy” rules about eating, or find yourself eating when you’re stressed, bored or unhappy, this may be the program for you. 


The program is taught by Lynn Rossy, MU health psychologist. Register by emailing Craig Deken at

For more information, watch the informational videos



ETCS director touts new communication software

There’s a new communication tool in town and it’s called Lync, according to John Myers, director of extension computing services.

“This software is the new replacement for Office Communicator,” says Myers. “It’s very similar to Office Communicator, but is easier to navigate and allows people outside the university to participate.”

With all the capabilities of this software, ETCS is creating a number of Inner Circuits articles to help you use this software. The first article, found at, will help you to install the software so you can start using it. Later articles will help you use different features like scheduling Lync meetings in Outlook, inviting people outside the university to join in your meeting, and using mobile devices with Lync, just to name a few. 



Upcoming events

Fee-generation workshops set

Workshops have been scheduled to explain additional functions and updates to the Fee Generation Worksheet-Online Tool. Register through ISE for the following workshop dates:




10-11 a.m.


2-3 p.m.


10-11 a.m.


2-3 p.m.


Other dates to remember

MU Extension retiree meetings set for May

May 15: Nominate your hard-working county clerical staff for the county clerical staff recognition awards. Visit County Clerical Staff Recognition Awards for more information regarding the nomination process.



Coming and going

Please welcome

Mary Wright, clerical, extension communications.

Dawn Bax, administrative associate I, EC Region.

Timothy Munday, 4-H youth development associate, NW Region.

Mary Lynch, office support associate FNEP, UE Region.




Nina Balsam, MU Extension St. Louis County program director, received the 2013 Citizenship Award April 25 at Missouri Lawyers Weekly’s 15th annual Women’s Justice Awards ceremony in St. Louis.  She was among 36 women from throughout the state honored at the event. See related news release for more information.




Debbie Ricker, executive staff assistant with the MU Extension vice provost’s office, will retire May 3. She worked at the university for 34 years, including 18 years with MU Extension. A retirement reception is set for 3-5 p.m., May 14, in S304 of the Memorial Union on the MU campus.

Bonnie Drury, nutrition program associate FNEP, EC Region.

Norman Lane, livestock specialist, NE Region.





Edith Cathrine Metzgar, 94, died April 17. She was the mother-in-law of Karma Metzgar, director of MU Extension’s Northwest Region. Services were held April 22 in Mound City, Mo.

Stephen Reynolds, son of Jackson County 4-H youth assistant Naomi Reynolds, died April 27. Services will be held at noon May 3 at Calvary Bible College Chapel, 15800 Calvary Road, Belton, Mo.



If you have items to include in future issues, please send them to Karen Dickey, Curt Wohleber, or Phil Leslie in the Cooperative Media Group. If you have questions, contact Dennis Gagnon, director, MU Extension Communications and Marketing.