News for employees

MU Extension Insider
April 8, 2014


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

MU Extension centennial marketing items available

Special marketing items are now available to help celebrate MU Extension's Centennial, according to Laura Lindsey, marketing coordinator with extension’s communications and marketing office.

To order, visit this website, select your office, type in your name, click “Continue”, scroll to “Add Items to Shopping Cart” section, and type "centennial" in the “Search by title field” to view a list of available items. Additional pieces, such as banners and pull-up shades, will be added in the next few weeks, says Lindsey.

She also reminds MU Extension faculty and staff that a special MU Extension centennial anniversary event is set for May 1 on the MU campus in Columbia.

“A new student-driven service-learning project will be announced that will benefit all 114 counties in the state during the next five years,” says Lindsey. MU Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin, state legislators and others will attend the celebration, which will run 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m. on the Carnahan Quad. A special program begins at noon.

Visit the newly updated MU Extension Centennial website for information and resources.


Pork producers step up biosecurity against PEDV

Missouri pork producers are stepping up biosecurity measures to keep the porcine epidemic disease virus (PEDV) from spreading. MU Extension swine nutrition specialist Marcia Shannon said these efforts have kept Missouri numbers lower than national figures.

The USDA’s quarterly report released March 28 shows the disease is still spreading, but at a slower rate than last quarter. Nationally, reported cases increased by only 3 percent. Missouri pork producers saw cases double during the last quarter to 96, which is still far lower than most of the nation. 

Missouri’s 96 cases compare to 1,646 in neighboring Iowa, 407 in Illinois, 214 in Kansas and 331 in Oklahoma. The disease has been reported in 27 states.

Learn more about the latest efforts to combat PEDV.


Marcia Shannon, MU swine nutrition specialist, said USDA's latest quarterly report shows 96 cases of PEDV in Missouri. Missouri has far fewer cases of PEDV than many surrounding states.


Volatile corn, soybean prices expected over next 5 years

Expect volatility in the soybean and corn markets over the next five years, says Pat Westhoff, director of the MU Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (MU FAPRI).

Look for corn prices to drop to $4 per bushel and soybeans to $10 per bushel on average for the next five years, he says. Net farm income is expected to drop 24 percent in the next year.

Westhoff’s comments are part of MU FAPRI’s recent baseline briefing booklet giving five-year projections for agriculture and biofuel markets. Westhoff said FAPRI’s price projections for the grain markets are “more pessimistic than a year ago” but more optimistic than USDA projections. Learn more about Westhoff’s corn and soybean price projections. For additional information, go to the FAPRI website .


Delayed 2012 drought-loss aid on way to livestock producers

Farmers who lost forages or livestock in the drought of 2012 should prepare to document those losses. The 2014 farm bill includes livestock disaster aid going back to 2011. The Congressional Budget Office estimates nearly $1 billion in disaster aid will be spent, says Scott Brown, MU agricultural economist.

“Many Missouri livestock producers will be eligible for payments. Some payouts may be big,” Brown says. “Regulations have not been released. While USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) prepares rules, farmers can prepare to make their cases.”

MU Extension plans educational support to producers. “Livestock disaster aid is our first priority,” says Dave Baker, MU Extension agriculture program director. MU Extension specialists will assist FSA staff in educational efforts over the next year.

USDA indicates livestock farmers can sign a local list at FSA offices starting April 15 to schedule enrollment. Read additional details in the expanded article.


East Urban Region gets new horticulture/CD specialist

Debi Kelly portrait Debi Kelly, Columbia-based agriculture extension associate in food science and nutrition, has accepted a position as the east Urban Region horticulture/community development specialist based in Hillsboro covering Jefferson, St. Louis and St. Charles counties. She starts the new job April 21.

In her soon-to-be former post, Kelly serves as the coordinator for the Missouri Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (MO SARE) program. On her departure from Columbia, statewide MO SARE responsibilities will be assumed by MU water quality program extension associate Dan Downing, according to Kelly.


St. Joseph has 7th-fastest-growing metro economy in U.S.

St. Joseph has the seventh-fastest-growing economy in the country, according to a recent U.S. Conference of Mayors report produced with forecasting company IHS Global Insight.

The Pony Express City had a gross metro product increase of 4.5 percent in 2013, with an unemployment rate of 5 percent and other indicators well above national norms. In contrast, the nation's economy grew by just 1.9 percent and the unemployment rate was 7.3 percent in 2013.

The report goes on to note that the area is a major hub for agricultural sciences and animal health businesses, with construction activity expected to increase substantially in the next few years.

Most of the metro areas on the report's list were energy boomtowns in Texas, the Dakotas and Wyoming, subject to that industry's caprices, booms and busts.


Reading ease helps you reach your audience

A writing tip from Duane Dailey

A successful lawyer, cited in The Wall Street Journal, writes at the fifth-grade level of readability. 

Last week a state specialist told me he writes grants at an eighth-grade level. Since he started that approach, all of his grants have been approved.

There’s value in writing at a level readers can understand. When editing stories, I hear “Don’t dumb-down my story!” It isn't dumb to reach your audience. If your readers must work to read, they may go elsewhere. It happens.

You should have the readability grade-level tool turned on when writing. Find it under “File” on Word 2010. Click “Options,” then click “Proofing.” Grade level is under “Spell Check.”
Start by easing your writing down to 12th-grade level. Too much MU writing starts at grade 23. Don’t send Ph.D.-level stories to newspapers. My mentor told me that even a Ph.D. can read at an eighth-grade level.
Most lawyers are fluent in prolific dispersion of ostentatious syntax. But they can learn to write at fifth-grade level. Surely extension workers can write at eighth-grade level.
Give it a try on your audience. You’ll look smart. (This article is under grade level five.)


PACE offers clean energy funding for communities

Communities across Missouri are considering ways that they can take advantage of PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) funding, allowed by Missouri law since 2010, according to Jeff Barber, MU Extension housing and environmental design specialist based in Greene County.

This innovative method of financing energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements binds the debt to the property rather than the owner, allowing repayment of an annual increment that is billed with the property’s tax bill, says Barber.

Read more about PACE funding of energy improvements for commercial, agricultural, industrial, multifamily, not-for-profit and public properties that can transfer from owner to owner.


The modern petunia: Not your grandmother's flower

If the modern petunia could talk, it might say, “Summer swoon, be gone.”

PetuniaUnlike the petunia of years gone by, today’s varieties can put up with the heat of summer, says David Trinklein, MU Extension horticulture specialist. Modern petunias are showy in a multitude of colors and color combinations, and will flower continuously throughout the growing season until the first hard frost.

Discover more about the myriad of horticultural advancements that may have prompted the National Garden Bureau to name 2014 the Year of the Petunia.


Controlled burn on pasture grass jump-starts cow herd grazing

With the long, cold winter followed by a delayed spring, fire may offer a chance to jump-start grass growth by warming the soil.

“Fire is the most underused grass management tool we have,” says Rob Kallenbach, MU Extension forage specialist.

“We are talking wise use of fire. It’s called a controlled burn for a reason. It takes preparation, a crew, tools, water tank and a tractor with a tillage tool on standby at the burn site.”
Anyone considering using fire should attend a burn school offered by the Missouri Department of Conservation, advises Kallenbach.

Read more about the value of controlled burns and the precautions needed to employ them.


MU Extension recognizes state legislator for support

Beverly Coberly, Dr. Michael Ouart and Legislators

Last week in Jefferson City leaders of MU Extension and the Fireand Rescue Training Institute recognized state Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, for his support of their organizations. Earlier this year MU FRTI also recognized Rep. Chris Kelly, D-Columbia, for his support. In the photo, left to right: Beverly Coberly, associate vice provost for extension; Michael Ouart, vice provost for extension; state Sen. Schaefer; David Hedrick, MU FRTI director; and Kevin Zumwalt, MU FRTI associate director.




Upcoming events

Youth can 'Meet the Big Muddy' during Summers @ Mizzou

Students ages 14-18 can learn about the nation’s longest river through hands-on activities this summer. “Meet the Big Muddy: The Missouri River Academy,” July 20-24, is part of the Summers @ Mizzou program hosted by the MU Extension 4-H youth development center.

“Participants will learn from experts in their fields about the ecology, history and biology of aquatic life in the ecosystem of the nation’s longest river,” said Bob Pierce, MU Extension fisheries and wildlife specialist.

For registration details and additional information about the Missouri River Academy and other Summers @ Mizzou programs, go to this website . Learn more about Missouri River Relief on the web or contact Melanie Cheney, assistant program coordinator for Missouri River Relief, at 573-443-0292 for details on river relief.


Contest prompts middle schoolers to promote healthy living

A statewide contest challenges middle school children to create a poster, short video or catchy slogan promoting exercise and healthy eating, reports Donna Mehrle, a Columbia-based nutrition and exercise physiology extension associate.

The contest is open to youth ages 11-14. The top prize is a $500 Amazon gift card. Second place is a $300 gift card and third place is a $100 gift card. Winning students also will earn prizes in the same amount for their schools.

The Missouri Council for Activity and Nutrition (MoCAN) and MU Extension are sponsoring the Youth Media Contest.  Entry deadline is April 25.


Register now for “Eat for Life” course

Classes in Eat for Life—an innovative approach to weight management—run weekly June 3-Aug. 5 in Columbia. Online classes also are available, according to Tracey Westfield, communications specialist with UM employee benefits.

For additional information, watch informational videos or find more details online. Contact Craig Deken  for registration details.


Fee-generation workshops

Workshops have been scheduled to explain additional functions and updates to the Fee-generation Worksheet-Online Tool. Register through ISE up to one week before the workshop. Sessions that do not have at least four registrants will be canceled and registrants will be asked to choose an alternative date.

2014 workshops

April 17

2-3 p.m.

April 18

9-10 a.m.

June 19

2-3 p.m.

July 16

10-11 a.m.

Aug. 21

2-3 p.m.


Moodle workshops

Extension Technology and Computer Services (ETCS) is conducting half-day online Moodle course-development workshops. Dates and times for the balance of the year:

  • May 6, 12:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
  • June 3, 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
  • July 2, 12:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
  • Aug. 8, 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
  • Sept. 10, 12:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
  • Oct. 7, 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
  • Nov. 6, 12:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
  • Dec. 5, 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.


Other dates to remember

May 1: Centennial Celebration, 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m. at Carnahan Quad. The program begins at noon.

May 12: 2014 NTT dossier workshop via Adobe Connect, 1:30 p.m.

May 17: 4-H Day with the Cardinals. Forms are available at

June 1: Deadline for submitting county office sustainability reports.

June 10-11: 2014 CPD conference in Columbia.

July 13-17 & 20-24: Summers @ Mizzou. For more information, contact Teresa Bishop at 573-884-0554 or go to


Coming and going

Please welcome

Kimberly Cullom, 4-H youth program associate, Montgomery County, EC Region

Gina Lucas, administrative assistant, FNP, Dekalb County, Urban Region

Darlisa Diltz, business development specialist, St. Charles County, Urban Region



Lawrence Dickerson III, community development specialist, Boone County, NE Region

Linda Rock, administrative assistant , statewide youth



Lorin Fahrmeier, coordinator of the Missouri Farm to Institution project, will appear on the April 13 episode of America’s Best Cook, a national cable TV program on The Food Network. Fahrmeier is based at the Mizzou Center in Jackson County.

April Miller, nutrition program assistant based in Chariton County, and her husband, Steven, are the parents of a son, Raygun Matthew Miller, born Dec. 11, 2013.



Margaret Larue Corken died March 28. She was the mother of Alison Copeland, 4-H youth specialist. Services were held April 1 in St. Joseph. Condolences may be sent to Alison and her family at 1305 Duval Ct., Columbia, MO 65203.

Virginia Watson, wife of retired MU Extension specialist Dale Watson, died March 22. Services were held March 26. Sympathy cards may be sent to Dale at 29929 Seven Hills Way, Kirksville, MO 63501. Memorial contributions in Virginia’s honor may be given to the Brashear Cemetery Association via the Travis-Noe Funeral Home, 1008 Potter Avenue, Kirksville, MO, 63501; 660-665-1300;

Judy Adkins of Brashear, Mo., died March 20 in Kirksville after a long illness. She was the mother of DeeAnna Adkins, Web coordinator for extension’s communication and marketing office in Columbia. Services were held March 23. Expressions of sympathy may be made to the East Center Cemetery. Memorials may be sent to Travis-Noe Funeral Home, P.O. Box 306, Kirksville, MO 63501.

Pamela S. Russell, sister of Lewis County-based nutrition program associate Deann Turner, died Dec. 10, 2013, in Iowa City, Iowa.


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.