News for employees

MU Extension Insider
Sept. 9, 2014


In the news

Dates to Remember

Coming and going


MU Extension Insider is published on the second and fourth Tuesday of the month by the MU Cooperative Media Group. Send feedback and comments to Karen Dickey.

In the news

Important changes coming in UM health insurance program


Important changes are taking place in Total Rewards, the University of Missouri System’s medical plans and wellness incentives for faculty and staff. Previously, employees who did not participate in the fall annual enrollment were automatically re-enrolled in the same plan. That is not the case this year. For 2015, active faculty and staff must either select a plan or waive coverage. Those who do not make a selection will be automatically enrolled in the low-premium, high-deductible Healthy Savings Plan (formerly known as the myOptions Health Plan).

The annual enrollment period will be Oct. 20-31, 2014.  

Changes to the plans themselves include premium changes, an increased wellness incentive and the introduction of the Custom Network Plan, a new Columbia-area medical plan offered in partnership with University of Missouri Health Care.

Understanding plan options can be difficult. To help you make an informed decision, there will be a number of informational meetings in Columbia over the next two months.

MU Extension has also arranged several meetings via Adobe Connect for off-campus faculty and staff:

  • Monday, Sept. 8: 10 a.m. and 11 a.m.
  • Tuesday, Sept. 16:  9:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.

To attend one of the online meetings, go to

One-on-one consultations are also available in the Columbia area.

A comprehensive enrollment guide will be mailed to employees in early September. Once available, it also will be accessible online, along with the myBenefits Decision Center, an online system that will let you make side-by-side comparisons of the plans offered. 

For more information, visit the 2015 Annual Enrollment website at

Michael Ouart
Vice Provost and Director, MU Extension


Extension panel to participate in MU’s 175th anniversary celebration

The future of  extension is the topic of a Sept. 18 panel discussion at MU’s Reynolds Journalism Institute.

Panelists will be Ronald J. Turner, UM executive vice president emeritus; Michael L. Cook, MU professor and Robert D. Partridge Chair in Cooperative Leadership; and Robert L. Kallenbach, MU professor and state extension specialist. Vice Provost and Director of Extension Michael Ouart will moderate the discussion, which will examine the value of higher education to Missourians, extension’s land-grant role as a provider of relevant content for citizens and how future content will evolve to meet society's changing needs. 

The event—Extension: Taking the Long View—is one of several symposia offered as part of MU’s weeklong 175th anniversary celebration, Sept. 15-19.

For those unable to attend the panel discussion, it will be videotaped for later viewing. 


Fall conference set for Oct. 21-23 in Columbia

The agenda is set for the 2014 MU Extension fall Program Conference, says Janet Lafon, conference chair and family financial education specialist in the Southwest Region.

The three-day session opens at 9:30 a.m. Oct. 21 at the Holiday Inn Executive Center in Columbia. Go to the conference website for a welcome letter from Vice Provost for Extension Michael Ouart. The website also has details on program sessions, conference registration, hotel reservation information and answers to frequently asked questions.

Conference planners ask that all participants register as soon as possible. Timely registration helps planners determine session room sizes, meal attendance and other key factors contributing to a successful conference.

“Members of the conference planning committee have worked hard to meet your professional development needs,” says Lafon. “We look forward to seeing you at our annual gathering.”


New business development specialist joins west Urban Region

Jeff Samborski, business development specialistsA new business development specialist, Jeff Samborski, has joined the MU Extension faculty in the west Urban Region, announces Steve Devlin, business development program director. Samborski is based in the Jackson County MU Extension center at Blue Springs.

Samborski comes to the BDP with 25 years of experience as economic development manager for North Kansas City. He has bachelor’s degrees in communications arts and business, and a master’s degree in government-business relations from Park University.


Osher Institute opens new home grandly

Osher Institute open house

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute held an open house and dedication ceremony Aug. 28 at its new facility in southeast Columbia. Flanking MU Extension Associate Vice Provost Bev Coberly, center, are Columbia Mayor Bob McDavid, right, and Hank Waters, left, publisher emeritus of the Columbia Daily Tribune. Ceremony attendees, including Columbia Chamber of Commerce ambassadors, joined the trio at the Hillcrest Community Center and Moss Building.


Do it with style: Acronyms are everywhere

By DeeAnna Adkins, Web coordinator, MU Extension communications and marketing

Larry Boehm do it with styleExtension employees might rank just below federal government employees on the number of acronyms heard on the job each day. However, employees need to remember that what has become second nature to them might not be familiar to the public. On our website and in publications, we avoid abbreviations and acronyms when possible. Sometimes, however, it is not possible, such as when the name of an organization is mentioned multiple times in one piece.

In general, spell out MU Extension program names. If the name will be mentioned multiple times on the page, then spell out the program or organization name on first reference then put the acronym in parentheses after the spelled-out version. On subsequent references, use the acronym to refer to the program or organization. This is no longer AP style, but we still follow this rule.


The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) introduced a new icon for healthy eating called MyPlate. This icon will replace the USDA food pyramid as a reminder of what foods constitute a healthy meal.

The University of Missouri, through its Extension Community Economic and Entrepreneurial Development (ExCEED) program, partners with rural communities to identify and implement new strategies for community economic development. ExCEED currently works with Missouri citizens in 11 regional projects to identify challenges in today's economy and reach goals set by the community.

This and other helpful styles can be found in MU Extension’s style and usage guide. Find the style guide at To find it through the website navigation, go to the “For faculty and staff” pages and look in the “Communications and marketing” section under “DIY communications” for the “Style and usage guide.”

For answers to questions or to suggest additions to our ever-evolving style guide, contact DeeAnna Adkins, Web communications coordinator, at, through Lync or by phone at 573-882-8199.


Editorial offers positive take on small business training

Results of a recent survey conducted by a San Francisco-based professional services firm rated the small business climate in the state of Missouri only average. Among the deficiencies cited in the survey was lack of training available to business owners in the state.

In response, Steve Devlin, the director of MU Extension’s business development program, wrote an op-ed article rebutting the findings. It appeared in the Sept. 6 edition of the Columbia Daily Tribune. Read Devlin’s article, which ran under the headline “MU Extension program is state's best-kept economic development secret.”


Campus, system awards nomination schedules available

Lists of 2014-15 award nominations schedules and faculty development opportunities from a variety of sources are available, according to Patricia Okker, MU interim deputy provost. Specific nomination and application deadlines are noted with each respective announcement.

Access information on the various awards and on the variety of faculty development opportunities through the MU provost’s website.

Because of the similarity of some awards, questions regarding the most appropriate award for a particular nominee may arise, says Okker. Nominating individuals for a second award is permissible, though Okker suggests each nomination be tailored for each specific award.

Contact Marla Applebaum for answers to any questions about nomination and application processes.


Health systems theme team reports progress

The Health Systems theme team presented an update to the program integration committee Sept. 4, according to team facilitator Linda Morgan, Pemiscot County program director.

The team discussed current and ongoing projects, including health care, aging, mental health first aid and work site wellness. Team members also updated the program steering committee on current plans and activities for expanding the Osher Institute program outstate.


Dates to remember

Farm Safety & Health Week runs Sept. 21-27 slow-moving vehicle (SMV) emblem, a reflective orange triangle bordered with red, is the cheapest safety device in the farm store. But it’s also one of the best ways to remind drivers to share the road with farmers during the upcoming harvest season, says Todd Lorenz, MU Extension agronomy specialist.

And National Farm Safety and Health Week, Sept. 21-27, is a good time to talk about driving safety on Missouri’s rural roads, Lorenz said.

Read more.


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.

Sept. 17 10-11 a.m.
Oct. 16 2-3 p.m.
Nov. 19 10-11 a.m.
Dec. 18 2-3 p.m.
Jan. 22 2-3 p.m.
Feb. 19 2-3 p.m.
March 18 10-11 a.m.
April 16 2-3 p.m.
May 20 10-11 a.m.
June 18 2-3 p.m.
July 16 10-11 a.m.
Aug. 20 2-3 p.m.



Other dates to remember

Now-Sept. 19: Show-Me Market Showdown, online grain marketing game.

Sept. 12: Nominations due for the Greater Missouri Leadership Challenge.

Sept. 12: MU’s United Way campaign kicks off, 8 a.m., Carnahan Quad.

Sept. 22-26: Community Development Academy, Excelsior Springs. Registration deadline is Sept. 5.

Sept. 22-Nov. 19 (dates vary by location): Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction course. Columbia,; Kansas City,; Rolla,

Sept. 24-Dec. 10: Eat for Life course. For additional information, watch informational videos or find more details online.

Oct. 2-28: Retiree meetings.

Oct. 7: Moodle workshop. To register, go to

Oct. 20-31: Annual enrollment.

Oct. 21-23: MU Extension Program Conference, Columbia.

Dec. 3-4: Administrative Support Conference for all extension administrative support staff at the campus and field level, on the MU campus in Columbia.

Dec. 9-11: 2014 NAEPSDP annual conference, San Antonio, Texas.

Dec. 31: Deadline for completing UM information security training. Visit to access the online training modules.

Jan. 12-16, 2015: Youth Development Academy, Columbia


Coming and going


Cat Comley, MU Extension director of development, married Jonathan Adams Aug. 23, in Fulton.

The latest issue of Mizzou magazine ran an article about a couple of students who have worked with the MU Extension’s ExCEED program, directed by Sharon Gulick.



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.