News for employees

MU Extension Insider
April 12, 2016


In the news

Dates to remember


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

In the news

Turner appointed interim vice provost

turnerJo Turner

Effective April 1, MU Provost Garnett Stokes appointed L. Jo Turner to the role of interim vice provost and director of extension. Turner replaces Tom Henderson, who asked to step down. In addition to a previous stint as interim vice provost, Turner has served as a regional specialist, state specialist and 4-H program director. Before her retirement in 2014, she worked with the National 4-H Council, serving as principal investigator for grants from major funders, including a $1.5 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to address poverty and hunger in sub-Saharan Africa.

Meanwhile, the search for a permanent MU vice chancellor for extension and outreach is down to two finalists. Later this month, Marshall Stewart of North Carolina State and Mary Holz-Clause of California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, will visit the MU campus and deliver public presentations, which will be streamed live and recorded for later viewing. For more information, go to


Workgroup established for e-commerce initiative

FlinnKyle Flinn

Kyle Flinn has joined MU Extension as director of the new e-commerce initiative. Over the next several years, Flinn will guide the development of an e-commerce and e-learning website that will leverage the power of technology to connect people and information via the means that they prefer, whenever they want it.

Possible offerings from the website include downloadable guides, printed publications, instructional videos, in-person workshops or classes, and one-on-one consultations.

Flinn will collaborate with Mark Stillwell, project administrator-operations, and Dennis Gagnon, director of communications and marketing, as part of a three-person working group concerned with the design and implementation of the initiative’s various components.

“The organization needs something state-of-the-art and future-proofed,” says Flinn, who has spent the last 20 years in various systems management roles at Sprint, most recently as manager of strategic initiatives in the Office of the CEO.

Organizations like MU Extension share a similar objective with online retailers like making it easy for people to find what they want or need.

“Most websites place the burden of finding something of interest on the user,” says Gagnon. “We want to expedite the process from expressing a need to finding an experience that meets that need.”

The e-commerce initiative will not only make it easier for users to benefit from extension’s resources and programming, it will broaden the reach of extension educators and specialists.

Other project priorities include uniform, statewide systems for event registration, accepting credit card payments and enhanced e-learning. Mark Stillwell is supervising the expansion of MU Extension’s e-learning offerings.

The group is working with, a Chicago-based web-development firm whose clients include a range of commercial, nonprofit and governmental organizations.’s past projects include the 2009 relaunch of at the start of the Obama administration.

A big part of Flinn’s job over the next several months will be meeting with people throughout MU Extension to understand how the organization works, communicate the benefits of the initiative, and to identify priorities, needs and concerns.

“I’m looking forward to working with everyone and hearing their thoughts,” he says. “I think this is going to be a game-changing opportunity.”


FRTI awarded $3,500 grant from FM Global

FRTI grant

Standing in front of FRTI’s mobile Fire Cause Determination Training Unit are, from left, Jo Turner, interim vice provost and director of extension; Dave Hedrick, FRTI director; James Rauba, FM Global engineering specialist; Kevin Zumwalt, FRTI associate director; Gail Hagans-Reynolds, FRTI field extension specialist; Tim Hartz, FRTI instructional support associate; Erin McGruder, FRTI curriculum specialist; Cat Comley, director for advancement; and Travis Johnson, FRTI multimedia specialist.

MU Extension’s Fire and Rescue Training Institute (MU FRTI) received a $3,500 fire-prevention grant from FM Global, one of the world’s largest commercial property insurers.

FM Global representative Jamie Rauba presented the award at the MU FRTI offices on 1110 S. College Ave. on April 11. The award will assist with the training of Missouri firefighters in fire cause determination and arson awareness.

FM Global’s Fire Prevention Grant Program provides funding to fire departments as well as national, state, regional, local and community organizations to support a wide array of fire prevention, preparedness and control efforts.


Marketing tips

From Laura Lindsey, senior marketing coordinator

Are you frustrated with the results of your current marketing strategies? I know a lot of people in extension are. Sometimes we try to do too much and take a wide, surface approach to marketing instead of concentrating on digging deep and staying focused on one goal.

In the next issues of the Insider, I’ll provide some ideas to get you thinking about your current marketing strategy and how you can update and refresh it to make it more effective.

Step 1: Identify your target audience (no, it isn’t everyone) by asking three questions.

Hint: When you select a specific target audience, you will be able to connect with them more easily than if you try to attract all demographics.

How does my program fulfill a specific need or solve a problem?

Who will benefit MOST from this information?

What makes my program different and unique? To answer this one, use the four P’s of marketing: product, place, promotion and price. At least one of these should be different to make a customer want to choose your service over a competitor’s.

Once you have answered these questions, you can determine your main selling point, which will lead you to who your target audience is. They are the people who have the problem you can solve.

Next time, we’ll discuss connecting with our target audience through marketing materials.

In the meantime, if you have any marketing questions, contact me at 573-884-2394 or


MELD VII postponed

In light of current uncertainties regarding the MU Extension budget, the decision has been made to postpone plans to offer MELD VII (Missouri Extension Leadership Development).  The course had been scheduled to begin in the fall of this year.  As the budget situation becomes clearer, MELD may be held at a later time.


Insider reader contest


Nate Cahill, CPD in Warrensburg, won a short-sleeve polo shirt in last issue’s reader contest.

This issue’s prize is a Tri-Mountain long-sleeve polo in black, heather gray or khaki.

For a chance to win, complete this issue’s crossword puzzle by noon Friday, April 15.


Dates to remember

Open forums set for extension vice chancellor finalists

Finalists for vice chancellor for extension and engagement are scheduled to visit the MU campus and make presentations outlining their vision for MU Extension. The presentations, which are open to the public, will take place in the Jesse Wrench Auditorium in the Memorial Union on April 22 and April 25.

Both sessions will be available through a live stream during the events, and each session will be archived for video playback within 24 hours of the presentation.

To learn more about the candidates and for information on how to access the live video stream and archive video recordings, go to


Panel on federal retirement benefits set for May 12

A panel discussion on federal retirement benefits (CSRS and FERS) will take place May 12, 10 a.m.- 2 p.m., at 1110 S. College, Room 113.

The panel will include Cari Lyman, UM System Total Rewards; Randy Hallier, Financial Workshops, LLC; Tamra Robbins, extension retirement and benefits coordinator; Interim Vice Provost for Extension Jo Turner, Associate Vice Provost for Extension Beverly Coberly and Assistant Vice Provost for Extension Joy Millard.

Anyone interested in learning more about federal retirement is welcome to attend. It will be conducted via Adobe Connect and recorded for faculty who cannot attend.

The goal of the workshop is for employees with federal retirement benefits (CSRS and FERS) to understand the specific federal benefits, MU benefits and eligibility requirements, and how to best plan to utilize those benefits, before they retire.  

Please reply to Janice Perkins at so lunch arrangements can be made.


Payments training for fiscal employees

From Shelly DeJaynes, Extension Fiscal

In March, the university updated the Payment Reference Guide (formerly known as the AP/PO Quick Reference Guide). This guide is a summary of the ways in which different types of purchases should be made using university funds. Campuses are providing in-person training, which campus fiscal employees are expected to attend. To register for a campus training session, go to

An online training for off-campus employees will be set up soon. Please check the Extension Fiscal Announcements page for updates.


Extension hosts heritage tourism events

MU Extension’s Community Arts Program will hold two events this spring looking at how communities can incorporate stories and storytelling into heritage tourism initiatives.

On April 22, an all-day training in Lexington will explain best practices and guidelines for developing and producing audio and digital cultural heritage tourism projects. Lexington volunteers and MU faculty worked in partnership for two years to create an audio tour of the town’s history and architecture, “The Legends of Lexington.” For more information, go to

On May 5 at the Missouri History Museum in St. Louis there will be a panel discussion featuring members of the Lexington community, scholars, MU Extension faculty and professional storytellers. For more information, go to

The discussion is part of the St. Louis Storytelling Festival, May 4-7, sponsored by MU Extension and partners.


Finish Tier 1 of the Wellness Incentive by April 30

From UM Total Rewards

Complete Tier 1 of the 2016 Wellness Incentive by April 30 to earn $100* in your final May paycheck and help define what wellness means to you. There are two simple steps to complete this tier:

1.    Sign a wellness pledge, which most eligible employees** signed during annual enrollment in October 2015.

2.    Complete a Personal Health Assessment (PHA). This online questionnaire takes about 15 minutes and is designed to identify any potential health risks. Log in to the Wellness Portal to complete your PHA.

Finish strong! If you finish Tier 1 by April 30, you will be eligible to complete Tier 2 by Sept. 30 to earn an additional $350* in your final October paycheck. You must complete Tier 1 in order to be eligible for Tier 2 money. Visit for details and eligible Tier 2 activities.

* Your 2016 Wellness Incentive earnings will be taxed and voluntary retirement contributions will be deducted, just like with other earnings.

** Any university faculty and staff member may participate in Wellness Incentive activities, but only employees who meet the following conditions at the time of each tier’s payout can earn that tier’s incentive money:

1.     The employee is in active status.

2.     The employee pays premiums for a UM System medical insurance plan (i.e., a primary subscriber).

3.     For Tier 2, the employee has received the payout for Tier 1.


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.

April 21 2-3 p.m.
May 18 10-11 a.m.
June 16 2-3 p.m.
July 20 10-11 a.m.
Aug. 18 2-3 p.m.


Spring retiree meetings

Active faculty and staff are also welcome at retiree meetings. See the latest issue of Friends of Extension for meeting details.

April 12 — Nevada.

April 13 — Ozark.

April 15 – Sedalia.

April 22 — Jackson.

April 26 — Columbia.


Religious holidays

The communities we serve are home to individuals from a variety of cultural and religious traditions. The following is a list of religious holidays that individuals in your community may observe in the coming weeks.

April 13: Vaisakhi (Sikh) is the Sikh new year and harvest festival.

April 22-30: Passover (Jewish) is the weeklong observance commemorating the freedom and exodus of the Israelites from Egypt during the reign of Pharaoh Ramses II.

April 24: Palm Sunday (Eastern Orthodox Christian) commemorates Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem.

April 29: Good Friday (Eastern Orthodox Christian) commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus.

May 1: Easter (Eastern Orthodox Christian) is the annual commemoration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

May 1: Beltane (Pagan, Wiccan, Druid) celebrates the coming of summer and the fertility of the coming year. One of the eight major annual sabbats or festivals.

May 4-5: Yom HaSho’ah (Jewish), which begins at sundown, is a day to remember the lives and names of Jewish victims and activists of the Holocaust.

May 14: Buddha Day/Visakha Puja (Buddhist) is the major Buddhist festival, commemorating the birth, enlightenment and death of the Buddha.

May 29: Ascension of the Baha’ullah (Baha’i) commemorates the death of the founder of the Baha’i faith, who died May 29, 1892.

June 5-July 5 (begins at sundown): Ramadan (Islamic) is an occasion to focus on faith through fasting and prayer, and is one of the most important Muslim holidays.

June 11-13 (begins at sundown): Shavuot (Jewish), a holiday with significant work restrictions, commemorates receipt of the Torah on Mount Sinai.

June 21: Litha/Midsomer/Alban Hefin/Summer Solstice (Pagan, Wiccan, Druid) celebrates the longest day of the year and the beginning of summer. One of the eight major annual sabbats or festivals.

July 4-5 (begins at sundown): Eid al-Fitr (Islamic), a holiday with significant work restriction, is the last day of Ramadan, marking the end of a month of fasting.

July 13-14 (begins at sundown): Tisha B’Av (Jewish) commemorates a series of Jewish tragedies, including the destruction of the first and second temples in Jerusalem.

For more information, go to


Other dates to remember

April 26: Staff Open Forum, 11:30 a.m.- 1 p.m.,  in Stotler Lounge, Memorial Union. Email your questions to by Friday, April 15.

May 4-7: St. Louis Storytelling Festival, St. Louis.

May 21: 4-H Day with the Cardinals. Ticket orders must be postmarked by April 11.

June 8-10: Cambio de Colores (Change of Colors): Latinos in the Heartland, 15th annual conference, Columbia.

Oct. 25-27: MU Extension Summit.


Coming and going

Please welcome

Kristie Franklin, youth program assistant, Marion County, NE Region.

Kyle Flinn, MU Extension Enterprise Project Director.



Don Nicholson, MU Extension transition team leader.

Marsha Alexander, extension professional and housing and environmental design specialist, Jackson County, Urban Region.



Patricia “Pat” Kerns Kobbe, 72, passed away March 20 in St. Joseph. Kobbe worked for MU Extension in DeKalb County for 10 years after earning her B.S. in home economics from MU. She recently served on the Worth County MU Extension Council and was Worth County emergency management director for Missouri’s State Emergency Management Agency.

George D. Zimmerman, father of EC Region nutrition specialist Lynda Zimmerman, passed away March 21. Funeral services were held March 28 at Fort Custer National Cemetery in Augusta, Mich. Cards may be sent to 3814 Blue Cedar Lane, Columbia, MO 65203.


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