News for employees, Sept. 15, 2008

Conference to integrate local and national perspectives

Extension faculty to meet in October

Bonnie McGee, a national leader in urban extension programs, is the keynote speaker for MU Extension’s annual conference, Oct. 28-30, in Columbia. The conference will feature professional development seminars and subject-matter training, as well as recognition, association meetings and networking opportunities.

McGee, director of urban programs at Texas A&M University, has helped set the national agenda for urban extension programs. She has served on and chaired the Extension Committee on Organization and Policy for the National Urban Task Force.

McGee will speak at the opening session, which begins at 10:30 a.m. Later that day, she and MU Extension Vice Provost Michael Ouart will lead a professional development seminar on extension scholarship.

Other seminar topics include national program updates, eXtension, revenue generation and future technologies.

During the afternoon, the University System’s Healthy For Life initiative will sponsor a health fair.

The second day will be devoted to category meetings. On the last day, motivational speaker Gale Mote will address the conference. The event will close with awards.

Watch Staff Resources for conference details, including registration information.


Wyatt named associate dean for entrepreneurship

Steve Wyatt Steve Wyatt

Steve Wyatt has been named associate dean of economic development and entrepreneurship in the MU College of Engineering. Wyatt will continue with his responsibilities as business development program director for MU Extension.

As associate dean, Wyatt will provide leadership for entrepreneurship within the college. He will facilitate entrepreneurships courses and collaboration with other MU schools and colleges, including distance education; connect with industry for research and development, teaching, and service contracts and collaborations; support entrepreneurial companies including faculty start-ups; and work with faculty to integrate research, teaching, and entrepreneurship.

“Entrepreneurship is a critical component of engineering education and the addition of an experienced leader in this area will enhance student and faculty development,” Engineering Dean Jim Thompson wrote in memo to faculty and staff.

Entrepreneurship is one of the six key areas identified in the college planning process. Wyatt’s position resulted from administration’s discussions with faculty on enhancing entrepreneurship outreach across the state.

Steve additionally has an adjunct appointment as extension professor of entrepreneurship in the industrial and manufacturing systems engineering department where he is teaching courses in entrepreneurship.


Britt-Rankin serves as interim dean

Steve Wyatt Jo Britt-Rankin

Jo Britt-Rankin is serving as interim associate dean for research and graduate studies in the college in addition to continuing her responsibilities for HES Extension.

“Given her extensive knowledge of HES across all six units, her national involvement in the Board on Human Sciences and her extensive track-record in securing and managing major federal grants, I anticipate a smooth transition of leadership between Dr. Sable and Dr. Britt-Rankin,” HES Dean Steve Jorgenson said in an e-mail announcing Britt-Rankin’s interim appointment.

Britt-Rankin will hold the interim assignement until an individual is hired for the position formerly held by Marjorie Sable, who was appointed director of the School of Social Work in July.


Poverty numbers are poor reflection of America's economy

Mizzou expert recommends looking at other factors

By Emily Smith, senior information specialist, MU News Bureau

The U.S. Census Bureau released its “Income, Poverty, Health Insurance Coverage and American Community Survey: 2007 Report” on Tuesday morning, which stated that household incomes are up for the third consecutive year and the poverty rate is not statistically different from 2006.

An MU expert said these numbers do not represent the current struggling economy.

 “Most Americans will feel a real disconnect with these official statistics for two main reasons: First, these numbers are a reflection of the economic situation in 2007, said Colleen Heflin, an assistant professor with the Truman School of Public Affairs. “While the economy began to decline in mid-2007, that decline really accelerated in 2008. These numbers will be completely different a year from now.”

“Second, these statistics paint a very rosy picture but don’t capture the struggle Americans are facing while paying the rising costs of goods and services.”

The federal poverty measure identifies the amount of household income available and compares it to a predetermined level of income that would be sufficient to cover basic necessities. The number of Americans living in poverty in 2007 was 37.3 million, or 12.5 percent. Real median household income climbed 1.3 percent to $50,233.

The number of people without health insurance coverage declined from 47 million, or 15.8 percent, in 2006 to 45.7 million, or 15.3 percent, in 2007.   

“The report shows that the median household had increased income in 2007, but it does not show that this level of income did not buy as much as it did a year earlier,” Heflin said. “People aren’t necessarily taking home less money, but they are spending substantially more on gas, food and heating costs than they were a year ago.

“The current federal poverty measure is not designed to capture this trend. The results of the 2007 report make the case that material hardship measures are needed to supplement the official poverty report. Currently, there is no nationally representative annual measure to show whether people are able to meet the cost of the basic necessities required to participate fully in society.

“Material hardship measures would show that people aren’t able to afford food for their families, heat for their homes or the cost of their mortgage payment.”


Registration extended for agrosecurity conference

The deadline for the Midwest Regional EDEN Animal Agrosecurity Conference has been extended to Sept. 22.

MU Extension faculty and other stakeholders can learn about their roles in protecting and safeguarding our food and agriculture infrastructure at the Midwest Regional EDEN Animal Agrosecurity Conference, Oct. 7 and 8 in St. Louis. The conference objective is to promote dialog among stakeholders and increase the understanding of people’s roles and responsibilities in the event of an agrosecurity event, learn about available resources, and promote effective collaboration. Conference participants will have the opportunity to discuss a coordinated state or multi-state approach to agrosecurity events.

Hosted by MU Extension, the conference is designed for extension faculty, state veterinarian offices, animal health bureaus, departments of agriculture and emergency management, county/state health departments, law enforcement, commodity groups, veterinarians, zoos and wildlife parks. The cost is $75 per person. For more information, contact Conne Burnham,, MU Extension emergency management specialist.

Midwest Regional EDEN Animal Agrosecurity Conference

Sprucing up downtown

MU Extension is helping small towns recapture vibrance of downtown districts

The once-vibrant downtowns of small-town Missouri are all but forgotten today. In this video news story. Jeff Barber, MU Extension environmental design specialist, explains how he and students are helping Webb City creating a vision for the future.

New employees

Welcome to those who recently have joined the MU Extension team:

• Heather Benedict, agronomy specialist, Harrison County

• Jill Cook, administrative assistant, MU Direct: Continuing and Distance Education

• Marsha Corbin, nutrition program associate, Lafayette County

• Lindsay Mitchell, administrative assistant, MU Conference Office

• Brittany Moe, office support II, Center for Distance and Independent Study

• Kari L. Stock, youth program associate, Harrison County

• Robert Taylor, research associate, Office of Social and Economic Data Analysis, MU

• Jessica Trussell, human development and family studies, Livingston County

• Carol Williams, youth program associate, Andrew County

Tech training: working with charts

Learn how to create eye-catching charts using Microsoft Excel during September’s technology workshop. Nellie Lamers, Tri-Lakes TCRC coordinator, will cover everything you need to know from start to finish. In addition to the basics, Lamers will discuss formatting, customizing, data sets and trends.

The class runs from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Sept. 23, over the TeleCenter Network. Sign up by Sept. 18 at one of the following locations:

 •  Mexico
 •  Portageville
 •  Poplar Bluff
 •  Salem
 •  Jefferson City
 •  Kirksville
 •  Park Hills
 •  Reeds Spring
 •  Nevada
 •  St. Joseph
 •  Cape Girardeau

Legislative Day planned for April 2009

The 2009 Legislative Day, sponsored by the University of Missouri Alumni Alliance, is scheduled for April 22 at the State Capitol. The awards dinner will be April 21.

Friends to host 90th birthday celebration for Virginia Norris

Friends and former extension colleagues will host a 90th birthday party for Virginia Norris, retired associate dean for human environmental sciences-extension, from 2-4 p.m., Oct. 12 at the Lenoir Woods Community Center in Columbia. MU faculty who worked with Virginia are invited to the celebration. Cards also are welcome. For more information, contact Ruth George at 573-445-4269.

MU Extension Insider is published on the 1st and 15th of each month for MU Extension faculty and staff. Send comments to Editor, Eileen Yager.