News for employees, Dec. 15, 2009

Specialist helps entrepreneur overcome challenge
of starting a business in a recession

Quarterly Teamwork Award

Faculty keep disaster recovery on track in Wayne County

Though it has been nearly two years since a series of floods washed through Wayne County, some residents are still recovering from the March 2008 natural disaster.

The county’s long-term recovery committee, organized by local MU Extension faculty members, has been the central point for more than 700 residents who suffered losses in the flooding and were turned down for federal disaster assistance.

MU Extension faculty who organized the committee recently received the Quarterly Teamwork Award. The team included Pam Crass, 4-H youth specialist and Wayne County program director; Kendra Graham, livestock specialist; Frank Wideman, natural resource engineering specialist; and Celeste Vanderbrugen, community development specialist.

Members of Tzu Chi, Taiwan's Buddist recovery organization, presented gift cards and blankets made from recycled plastic to more than 300 Wayne County residents were affected by flooding in March 2008. Photo courtesy of Wayne County Journal-Banner
Members of Tzu Chi, Taiwan's Buddhist recovery organization, presented gift cards and blankets made from recycled plastic bottles to more than 300 Wayne County residents affected by flooding in March 2008. Photo courtesy of Wayne County Journal-Banner

After it became evident that just 25 people would receive assistance from FEMA, Crass and Graham organized a long-term recovery committee. The pair sought advice and guidance from Vanderbrugen and Wideman, veterans in local disaster recovery.

They have worked closely with Sherie Wymore, LTRC chair, and Shannon Thomas, regional caseworker supervisor.

In addition to Crass and Graham, the long-term recovery committee includes volunteers from the Ministerial Alliance, city of Piedmont, South Central Missouri Community Action Agency, Missouri Division of Family Services, Clearwater and Greenville schools, Journal-Banner newspaper, Wayne County Commission and county clerk, and Salvation Army.

Crass and Graham first helped the committee win a grant from the Missouri Interfaith Disaster Recovery Organization to hire Thomas to supervise case managers and a construction estimator, plus mileage and supplies. The United Methodist Committee on Relief trained the 11 volunteer case managers. The group also received a grant from the South Central Missouri Community Action Agency and cell phones for case managers from Church World Service.

Thomas and the case managers contacted each family who completed FEMA forms to determine the needs.

The LTRC manages recovery funds, including a block grant from the Missouri Department of Social Services; and coordinates volunteers, such as a West Virginia church group that repaired a roof and a bridge.

Thus far, the committee has received $27,000 to support recovery efforts, above and beyond the grants and donations of labor and supplies.

Today, five assistance projects are in progress, but many more have been completed, like building a new home for an elderly veteran and purchasing a mobile home for another displaced family. The LTRC continues to promote the availability of funds for those in need.

New tool kit helps businesses focus on employee wellness

WorkWell Missouri Toolkit, MU Extension Publication MP0912

Healthy employees are not only good for the individual, they are good for businesses, said Stanley Woronick, extension associate with Healthy Lifestyle Initiative.

“It’s a way to help the bottom line,” Woronick said. “Wellness programs are worth anywhere between three to five times the amount of the employers’ investment.”

“WorkWell Missouri Tool Kit,” a new MU Extension publication, walks businesses through the process of creating a wellness program, from understanding the benefits to evaluating the outcomes.

The tool kit is based on a similar publication developed by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. Content is tailored to Missouri to include state-specific data and resources.

Workplace wellness programs pay off in increased productivity, staff retention and better morale. Programs also can help lower health care benefit costs for businesses, Woronick said. The book provides numerous ideas for wellness plans from simple policy changes― such as serving fresh fruit at meetings ― to comprehensive ― such as nutrition counseling for individuals.

Books, priced at $30 each, are available from MU Extension publications.

2010 Legislative Day set for early March

The University of Missouri Alumni Alliance will hold its 2010 Legislative Day, March 2.

The awards dinner, in which the University recognizes citizens for their support, will be March 1 at the Double Tree Hotel in Jefferson City.

More details will be available in January from UMEA.

Ratchford nominations being solicited

It is time once again to nominate worthy faculty members for the C. Brice Ratchford Memorial Fellowship. Nominations are due March 2, 2010.

The $5,000 award is given annually at a meeting of the UM Board of Curators to a University faculty member who makes significant contributions to the land-grant mission in extension, international education or agricultural economics programming.

Still time to participate in Healthy Lifestyle Initiative

Letters of interest for Healthy Lifestyle Initiative projects are due Dec. 18. Twelve communities will be added to MU Extension's multidisciplinary health and wellness program. Selected communities will receive $4,000 to support a 12- to 18-month planning process as well as funds to cover some travel expenses.

Letters should indicate support from extension colleagues, the regional director, community organizations and individuals, and indentify existing partnerships and potential funding to sustain the project.

Electronic travel vouchers to speed reimbursement

MU Extension employees should see turnaround time for travel reimbursement decrease when the university transitions to online submissions in 2010, said Callie Glascock, MU Extension administrative manager.

The switch is part of a larger travel management initiative to streamline the reimbursement process, improve efficiency and ensure compliance with university policies.

“The implementation of the online system should decrease the time from submission to reimbursement of travel-related expenses, primarily for our field faculty and staff,” Glascock said. “Expenses, along with necessary receipts, will be submitted and approved electronically, eliminating mailing time.”

Testing will begin soon and training is planned for spring 2010.

“To have an idea of who will need training and access to the new system, a survey will be sent within the next couple of weeks to assist in developing extension’s implementation plan,” Glascock said.


Von Pittman

The American Association for Collegiate Independent Study recently renamed a national award in honor of Von Pittman, director of the MU Center for Distance and Independent Study.

The Von Pittman Excellence in Research Award is given annually for scholarship in the field of independent study.

Incoming AACIS president, Kathy Peil, said Pittman had “…done so much over the past 30 years to raise the level of research related to independent and distance learning through his outstanding contributions to research and by supporting the research by others.”

Pittman is the third MU Extension faculty member to have an AACIS award named for him, joining Roger Young and Dale Huffington, retired director and assistant director of CDIS.

Nina Cehn
Nina Chen

Nina Chen, WC human development specialist, presented a research paper, “Life in Old Age,” at the 2009 World Congress of Gerontology and Geriatrics in Paris, France. The paper focused on life experiences and meaning after age 80.

As invited speaker, Chen presented “Building Bridges: An Intergenerational Program” at a preconference session for extension professionals at the 2009 Generations United International Conference in Washington, D.C. View the presentation.

Fee standardization sessions continue in new year

MU Extension will launch its new fee standardization and revenue generation plan Jan. 1. New information sessions are planned for the new year to help faculty and staff as they implement these activities. Contact Jeanne Miner to register for one of the sessions:

Jan. 6 at 2 p.m.
Jan. 28 at 10 a.m.
Feb. 12 at 2 p.m.
Feb. 23 at 10 a.m.

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