News for employees

MU Extension Insider
May 13, 2014


In the news

Dates to Remember

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

Videos cover a range of extension centennial observances

Like flowers in a spring garden, videos are popping up all over offering a variety of perspectives on the 100th anniversary of extension nationwide and in Missouri.

Last week Michael Ouart, vice provost for MU Extension, attended the national ceremony in Washington, D.C., honoring the centennial of the Smith-Lever Act, the legislative basis for the creation of the nationwide cooperative extension system. Joining Ouart in Washington were Bev Coberly, associate vice provost; Dave Baker, agriculture program director; and H.C. Russell, former head of the state extension advisory council.

Ouart and MU Chancellor Bowen Loftin spoke at a May 1 ceremony on the MU campus celebrating the first 100 years of MU Extension. The event was chaired and emceed by Joy Millard, interim assistant vice provost for MU Extension. More than 1,000 people attended the celebration.

During his presentation, Loftin announced the creation of a new partnership between MU Extension and the student service-learning organization Alternative Breaks. Starting this fall and during the next five years, the group will place students in all 114 Missouri counties to conduct community service projects. Additional details on Alternative Breaks activities will be available soon.

Finally, the 10-minute “University of Missouri Extension” offers a view of extension’s rich heritage, providing a historical perspective on the centennial of the Smith-Lever Act and extension in Missouri since 1914.


Environmental Concerns theme team presents update

The Environmental Concerns team, one of five ongoing groups focused on broad themes of concern to MU Extension programming, practitioners and clientele, presented an Adobe Connect update May 1 on its activities.

Chief among its latest accomplishments is the formation of the Energy Efficiency Training Partnership, according to Paul Bateson, chair of the Environmental Concerns theme team. 

EETP is a collaboration among MU Extension, the MU College of Engineering and outside stakeholders, including the National Homebuilders Association and the Energy and Environmental Building Alliance. EETP provides energy efficiency training and curriculum to real estate agents, bankers, appraisers and contractors. 

"Following the implementation of the EETP training effort, the Environmental Concerns team will turn its attention to an emerging problem for the entire nation, the dwindling supply of good-quality water,” says Bateson, MU Extension small business technology development specialist based in Columbia.

Connect to the presentation of audio and PowerPoint details  on the group’s activities.


HES opens Family Impact Center in Columbia

A new MU family-focused facility held its grand opening May 6 in Columbia. The MU Family Impact Center offers numerous MU Extension programs, ranging from nutrition and exercise to financial planning, according to Ashley Guillemette, center director and HES extension associate.

The center houses MedZou, which uses MU medical student volunteers to provide free, basic medical care; MoTax, which uses MU Extension faculty and students from the MU personal financial planning department in HES to provide free tax preparation and basic personal financial planning counseling and information; and the MU Social Services Clinic, which uses graduate students in the MU School of Social Work in HES to provide free mental health consultation and group therapy.

For more information on the facility, located at 105 E. Ash in Columbia, visit the center’s website and view a video  about the center’s recent opening.


New fiscal manager joins Business Development Program

Tracy Oswald, MU Extension's Business Development Program fiscal managerMU Extension’s Business Development Program has hired a new fiscal manager, according to Steve Devlin, BDP director. Tricia Oswald joined the program last month to provide leadership and oversight for all BDP fiscal operations. She succeeds Karen Swope, who left the BDP recently to take a similar post with MU’s College of Engineering.

Oswald has extensive experience in MU’s finance systems, having worked in business and fiscal operations for MU’s agroforestry center, the women’s health department, the surgery department, and environmental health and safety. She brings additional business experience from positions with Boone Hospital Center, Columbia College’s Career Services Center and the Dell Computer Corp.

Oswald holds a bachelor’s in business administration from Columbia College.


Speed reimbursement requests by following a few tips

The two-year-old university employee reimbursement system, most commonly called the T&E (travel and expense) system, has enabled employees to receive reimbursements more quickly than the previous system allowed, according to Shelly DeJaynes, with MU Extension fiscal administrative management.

However, in some instances delays have occurred for a variety of reasons. To improve the turnaround time on reimbursement requests, DeJaynes offers some tips.

“First and foremost, communicate clearly with people involved in the approval process,” says DeJaynes. “Don’t assume the approver will know about your trip and even if the approver did, typically approvers can’t change parts of your expense report for you. If it isn’t in a comment box or built into the T&E system, it can’t be approved.”

Tips related to funding amounts, mileage, hotels, meals and other factors are available in summary form on the administrative management website. Take a few minutes to review them next time you complete a reimbursement request. It will help get you reimbursed faster, says DeJaynes.


WC Region holds staff training in Clinton

 WC Region staff group photo

The West Central Region support staff gathered in Clinton, Mo., a few weeks ago to cover a variety of office training topics. Seated, from left: Wendy Beckman, Dallas County support staff; Georgia Stuart-Simmons, Johnson County CPD and community development specialist; Cheryl Baremore, Camden County support staff; Danee Douglass, Johnson County support staff; Darlene Krause, Cooper County support staff; and Patricia Miller, Vernon County CPD and agronomy specialist.

Standing, from left: Kay Sparks, Pettis County co-CPD and 4-H youth specialist; Kim Lambeth, Laclede County support staff; Mary Ann Gerant, Morgan County support staff; Sara Thomas, Pettis County support staff; Karen Wright, Hickory County support staff; Amanda Tempel, Johnson County support staff; Verlinda Talley, Henry County support staff; Jo Ann Clark, Benton County support staff; Debbie Klindworth, Morgan County support staff; Debbie McSperitt, St. Clair County support staff; Katherine Edwards, Cass County support staff; Kathy Drake, Polk County support staff; Brenda Doody, Bates County support staff; Judi Swank, Vernon County support staff; Wayne Prewitt, WC regional director; and Peggy Divine, WC Region administrative associate.


To hyphenate or not to hyphenate…that is the question

Do it with style.

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

Larry Boehm Ever wonder if “land grant” should have a hyphen? Or if you need to add a nondiscrimination statement to a brochure you are handing out? *
If so, there is a style reference for you. MU Extension’s “Style and usage guide” helps you understand how to make editorial and design decisions when making Web pages and print communication pieces. In the “For faculty and staff” pages on the website, you’ll find the guide in the “Communications and marketing” section under “DIY communications.” Here’s a direct link.

Style is not about right and wrong; it's about consistency and efficiency. While grammar can sometimes be debated, style is a publisher’s collection of decisions about grammar, punctuation and design. Consistent style makes MU Extension Web pages and publications more credible, usable and readable and lets you, the writer, focus on content rather than style decisions.

Follow MU Extension style first, then Associated Press style. As an MU employee, you have access to the online AP Stylebook using your pawprint and password. (Note: MU Extension's house Style and usage guide overrules the AP Stylebook when there is a conflict.)

(* Hint: Hyphenate land-grant when it is used to modify a noun such as university; land-grant universities are sometimes referred to as land grants, which would not have a hyphen because it is used as a noun. We do add a nondiscrimination statement to printed materials — search the style guide for “nondiscrimination” to know what to put on what type of document.)

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.


St. Louis aldermen honor community leadership participants

St. Louis alderman honor community leadership participants

Front row, from left: Kara Lubischer, MU Extension Urban Region community development specialist; and Liz Pund, Carol McClain and Judy Ricks, recent NLA graduates. Back row, from left: Craig Schmid, St. Louis alderman; George Jones, Jennifer Nefzger and Lisa Cagle, recent NLA graduates; and Lewis Reed, president of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen.

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen last month issued a resolution recognizing the contributions of the MU Extension and UMSL Neighborhood Leadership Academy and members of the 2013 class who reside in the city of St. Louis, reports Kay Gasen, director of the community partnership project at UMSL.

The NLA has provided training and technical assistance in personal leadership, community building and organizational management to more than 200 neighborhood leaders in the St. Louis metropolitan region since 2002.


MU Plant Diagnostic Clinic reopens after two-year hiatus

The MU Plant Diagnostic Clinic has reopened with a Missouri native at its helm. It had been closed for two years.

Extension associate and plant pathologist Patricia Wallace offers answers about plant pests for homeowners, farmers, gardeners and businesses across the state. MU Extension specialists in county offices frequently send in samples from residents in their region.

Since the clinic reopened April 1, there’s never been a lack of variety of sick plants, Wallace said. Samples have ranged from field, greenhouse or high tunnel crops to ornamental shrubs and trees.

Besides addressing plant diseases, the clinic can identify weeds, mushrooms, insects and arachnids with research-based results and an integrated pest management philosophy. Plant Sciences faculty specializing in agronomy, entomology, horticulture, weed science and plant pathology support the clinic, which opened in 1965. It is the only public plant pathology laboratory in Missouri.

Read more about Wallace and about the Plant Diagnostic Clinic.


Meat prices continue to rise for producers, consumers

“Bargains in the meat case might be hard to find,” said MU Extension economist Ron Plain at the recent Ag Marketing Outlook Conference.

Bringing home the bacon this year requires more cash. Short supplies of cattle and hogs are pushing prices upward at the sale barn and the supermarket.

Porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) caused the largest-ever drop in pigs per litter (PPL) from December to February. PPL plummeted by 5.5 percent. The second biggest drop was June to August 1988, when PPL dropped 1.68 percent. “We haven’t seen this magnitude of loss before,” Plain said.

The spread of PEDV slows during warm weather and appears to have peaked in February and March.

“Where’s the beef?” might be the next question. The drought of 2012 reduced forage supplies for cattle and contributed to the lowest number of cattle since 1951, Plain said. Future cattle prices are predicted to be around $1.40 per pound. Cow-calf profit margins should remain about $350 per cow, he said.

Plain said USDA forecasts less beef on the market throughout 2014. Beef producers should expect strong prices all year. He said cattle slaughter through mid-April was down 4.8 percent.

Per capita meat consumption in 2012 was the lowest since 1991. Plain said consumers face sticker shock as beef and dairy prices increase, and there is less meat available for export. Continued drought in California, which produces one of five dairy cows, will affect the nation’s supply of milk used in dairy products.

In row crops, MU Extension specialist David Reinbott said planting progress is behind. Based on USDA’s March 31 planting intentions report, there will be 3.7 million fewer corn acres planted this year.

The national season-average corn price should be around $4.40 per bushel, but that could fall to just under $4 if ending stocks are over 1.8 billion, Reinbott said. The price may be nearer $5 if ending stocks are closer to 1.2 billion bushels. New crop prices could peak in May and trend downward to a seasonal low in October if planting is not delayed much and there is little significant heat or dryness.

Learn more details about meat, dairy and grain supply trends.


April temperatures stretched, precipitation levels varied

April in Missouri saw fluctuating temperatures, plus too much rain in some places and not enough in others.

“The numbers are right around normal for the month,” says Pat Guinan, climatologist for MU Extension’s Commercial Agriculture Program. “We had a lot of week-to-week temperature swings. It was a roller-coaster ride with our temperatures.”

There were regional differences. Missouri had very cold weather around the middle of the month, with moderate- to hard-freeze temperatures in March and the first week in April, Guinan said.

The impact of those low temperatures was minimal because vegetative growth was behind schedule thanks to below-normal temperatures in March, he said.

April showers arrived as expected. Some areas of the state had heavy precipitation and even some flooding. After below-normal precipitation for January, February and March, the preliminary numbers show the average statewide total for April was a little more than five inches, which is an inch above normal. However, southwest Missouri missed out and continues to suffer intense drought.

More details on April weather are available. 




Dates to remember

KSU agronomist seeks gardening survey respondents by May 23

A fellow education professional in that state to the west seeks the help of MU Extension faculty involved with gardening clientele. Kansas State University has created a short survey to gather general knowledge about gardening habits and consumption of garden-grown crops, according to Sabine Martin, KSU agronomy professor.

“Results from the survey will aid in evaluating potential health risks associated with gardening on previously used sites and in developing best management practices for gardeners growing on these sites,” says Martin. “We hope to reach all (types of) gardeners, not only community gardeners, so we are casting a wide net.”

The survey, which must be completed by May 23, should only take five to seven minutes to complete.

“Thank you for your help,” Martin says.​​


Nominate county clerical staff for award by June 15

Regional faculty and staff members as well as other full or part-time professional, paraprofessional and clerical staff members and county council members can submit nominations for the county clerical staff recognition awards through June 15, according to Carol Heffner, MU Extension executive assistant.

Awards are presented in four categories: Rookie of the Year, Junior Clerical, Senior Clerical and Use of Technology.

“All county-paid office support staff members are eligible for the awards, which include cash prizes,” says Heffner.

Nominees will be judged on:

  • Conduct and courtesy within the extension community.
  • Service to MU Extension, the University of Missouri or Lincoln University, exclusive of job responsibility.
  • Pride in work.
  • Outstanding performance in one or more job-related areas.
  • Dependability and reliability.
  • Human relations skills.

Visit County Clerical Staff Recognition Awards for more detailed information about the nomination process.


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

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:

  • 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.

To register, go to


Other dates to remember

May 15: STEM initiative deadline. Additional details are available.

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.

June 15: Deadline to nominate for County Clerical Staff Recognition Awards

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


Coming and going


Julie and Mike Middleton are grandparents again and again. Deacon Marc Middleton was born to Marc and Cathy Middleton in Kansas City May 6. Michael A. Middleton III (Trey) was born to Michael and Teneka Middleton in Atlanta May 10.


Please welcome

Lauren Richardson, educational program associate I, Warren County, EC Region

Lori Stoll, educational program associate I, Callaway County, EC Region

Amy Vance, educational program associate I, Jackson County, UW Region

Mellissia Butler, educational program associate I, Vernon County, WC Region

Julie Ledford, educational program associate I, Cedar County, WC Region

Jennifer Slattery, office support assistant IV, Henry County, WC Region

Molly Tuggle, educational program associate I, Johnson County, WC Region



Larry Dickerson, community development specialist, NE Region.

Laura Jean Barks, nutrition program assistant, Wayne County, SE Region.

Joan Smith, career counselor, Business Development Program.



The parents of Debbie McSperitt, office manager of the St. Clair County extension office in Osceola, both died within days of each other late last month. Her father, Thomas G. Wheeler, died April 25; services were held April 29. Her mother, Kay Elizabeth Lucas, died April 28; services were held May 2. Notes of sympathy may be sent to Debbie at P.O. Box 492, Osceola, MO 64776.

Wilma Hargus died April 23, in Marietta, Georgia. She was the widow of Warren Hargus, former MU Extension faculty member who died in 2011. Services for Wilma were held May 1 in Willow Springs, Missouri.


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.