News for employees

MU Extension Insider
Feb. 15, 2013


In the news

Upcoming events

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

MU Extension appoints business development program director

University of Missouri Extension and the MU College of Engineering have named a new business development program director effective April 8. As the Program Director and Assistant Dean for the College of Engineering, Steven L. Devlin comes to MU Extension after serving Iowa State University Extension and Outreach’s Center for Industrial Research and Service for 13 years.

Devlin’s appointment follows an extensive national search for a leader capable of facilitating extension’s business development collaborations with public and private entities at all levels, including state and federal agencies.

“Steve Devlin brings an excellent and unique skillset to extension that will allow our highly successful business development programs to make an even greater impact for Missouri’s business community,” said Vice Provost and Director of Cooperative Extension Michael Ouart. “I have great confidence in Steve and look forward to the visionary leadership and creativity he will bring to our business development programs.”

Devlin’s experience at Iowa State University encompassed work as program director for ISU’s manufacturing extension partnerships (MEP), industrial project management in the area of biobased products, and industrial design. He also facilitated communications between federal, state and foreign agencies, manufacturers, consultants and testing organizations.

Prior to his extension experience at Iowa State, Devlin worked as an engineering analyst and product designer for Deere Incorporated from 1996 to 1999. He served as an office manager and training coordinator for Drafting Works from 1995 to 1996 and held positions in the field of drafting and construction from 1982 through 1993.

Devlin served in the U.S. Army and the Missouri and Iowa National Guard from 1986 to 1997. His duties included service as radio team chief, staff sergeant-section sergeant and service staff sergeant-training instructor.

Devlin holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial science from Truman State University and a master’s degree in industrial technology from Iowa State University. He is completing a doctorate in industrial education and technology at Iowa State University. 



Five new specialists join MU Extension field faculty

Four 4-H youth development specialists and a business development specialist joined the field faculty this week, according to Melinda Adams, director of MU Extension human resources.

“These five new members of our field faculty, who were appointed by their respective regional directors, started Feb. 11,” reports Adams.

picture Stephanie FermriteStephanie Femrite, 4-H youth development specialist, is based in Audrain County in the Northeast Region. She also will work in Callaway County.

For the past two years Femrite has served as an extension educator with Purdue University extension in Indiana. Previously, she worked four years as an MU Extension youth development educator in Boone County while pursuing her master’s degree in youth development at MU.

She has a bachelor’s degree in human development, also from MU. Before completing her undergraduate degree, Femrite worked several years as a community-building trainer for AmeriCorps VISTA in Missouri, Kansas and Arizona.

picture Erika JohnsonErika Johnson, 4-H youth development specialist, is based in St. Louis County in the eastern Urban Region. She also will cover Jefferson and St. Charles counties, and the city of St. Louis.

Most recently, Johnson managed part of the Youth Exploring Science program at the St. Louis Science Center. Johnson also worked four years as a youth counselor and education specialist with Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, and two years as education director with community-based Art Dimensions in St. Louis.

Johnson has a master’s in education from SIUE and a bachelor’s in business administration from Harris-Stowe State University.

Richard Smith, 4-H youth development specialist, is based in Buchanan County in the Northwest Region. He also will serve Andrew and Holt counties.

For the past four years Smith has served as a 4-H youth educator with MU Extension. He also worked many years as a group leader with the Missouri Division of Youth Services.

While pursuing a master’s degree in social work at MU, he worked as an extension administrative associate. Smith also has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Missouri Western State University.

picture Summer YoungSummer Young, 4-H youth development specialist, is based in Gasconade County and will cover two or three counties in the East Central Region.

For the past four years Young has managed the student experience programs at Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla. Her previous work also includes several years in English instruction at East Central Community College in Union, technical editing at MS&T, and reference librarian duties at Forest Park Community College in St. Louis [seems to be officially known as “St. Louis Community College-Forest Park”].

Young has three degrees from MU: an M.A. in information science, and M.A. and B.A. degrees in English.

picture Richard ZarateRichard Zarate, business development specialist, is based in Clay County in the western Urban Region. He also will serve Jackson and Platte counties.

For the past six years Zarate directed business programs for the KC-based Hispanic Economic Development Corp. Previously he directed business development for the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Greater Kansas City and managed career and workforce development programs for the KC-area Full Employment Council.

Zarate earned three master’s degrees in business-related fields from Benedictine College, Avila University and Baker University. He also has a bachelor’s in communications and human relations from Park University.



MU Extension bills move forward in state legislature

Legislation to provide statutory authority for MU Extension to establish single- or multi-county funding districts recently cleared committees in both houses of the Missouri General Assembly.

“The Senate version reached the floor for debate this week,” says Marty Oetting, UM director of government relations. “The bill will be taken up on the House floor next week.”

The legislation is a priority for the university and provides a tool for extension councils in the counties to improve efficiencies and the option of putting local property tax questions on the ballot to support local extension programming.

Senate Bill 9, sponsored by Sen. David Pearce, R-Warrensburg, and House Bill 202, sponsored by Rep. Bill Reiboldt,R-Neosho, would provide the statutory language needed to give extension councils the option. Go to this FAQ for more information on the proposal.



Update on county gift and endowment funds

by Cynthia Crawford, director of MU Extension donor education

January 2013 was a remarkable month for stock market growth. How did it impact your county’s gift and endowment funds? You may have a pleasant surprise.

Ask Cynthia Crawford or Cat Comley in the extension advancement office for fund balances comparing Jan. 1 to Jan. 31. One CPD, who checked fund balances earlier this month, wrote: “I’ve been here 10 years and didn’t realize we had funds in this account.”

How many counties have endowment funds?

“That’s a bit of a trick question,” explains Comley. “All 114 counties have the mechanism in place for an endowment fund to be managed by the university. On Dec. 31, one-fourth of counties had a zero balance in their university endowment fund and an additional 30 percent had a balance less than $2,500.”

How many counties have a funded endowment managed by the university?

On Dec. 31, 51 counties had funded endowments (more than $2,500) and the remaining counties had pending endowments (less than $2,500) in funds managed by the university. When extension endowments were initially created in the 1980s, endowments at MU needed to be $2,500 or greater to be considered funded. Today, endowments created at MU must be $25,000 or greater to be considered funded. The extension endowments that are currently pending or funded have been grandfathered in at the $2,500 level.


Total of spendable and endowment funds 12/31/2012

# counties

% of counties

cumulative %

$0 balance




$.01 - $2,499








$10,000 - $24,999




$25,001 +









Spirit Spark: Extension contest aims to “Spark Our Space”

by Lynda Zimmerman, HES specialist, Cole County

Have you considered ways you might make your office space more professional, efficient and appealing? Simple changes include decluttering, reorganizing and painting. These can be done on a limited budget and can make a huge difference. Team Spirit is sponsoring the 2013 Extension S.O.S. (Spark Our Space) contest as a way to encourage everyone to make their office environment the best it can be.

The first step is to take photos of various areas in your office. Second, use these photos to help evaluate how the space appears to your clients, council members, commissioners and other visitors, and make a plan for work to be done. Third, keep these for your “before” photo when you enter the Extension S.O.S. contest.

Entry guidelines for the 2013 Extension S.O.S. contest will be released soon. Watch for them in an upcoming edition of the Insider. If you have questions, contact Lynda Zimmerman at or any other Team Spirit team member.



Winter Fire School draws firefighters from across the state

picture people attending fire school

More than 900 firefighters and emergency responders from virtually every county in Missouri and five states attended FRTI’s Winter Fire School last week in Columbia. Pictured here, Smokey Dyer, retired chief of the Kansas City Fire Department, conducted a four-hour class on fire attack tips. The class was one of more than 80 sessions offered during the three-day school. It was also one of three classes streamed online to remote sites throughout the state and as far away as Alaska.



Videos available of administrative support training sessions

Video recordings of the administrative support staff e-conference “Making the Connection,” held last November, are available for viewing, according to Megan Martin, training coordinator with the MU Extension human resources office.

“We were excited about being able to offer the conference to all administrative support staff across the state,” said Martin, who co-chaired the event with Sarah Grubaugh, administrative associate in the Southwest Region. “We were slightly nervous about offering the conference in a broadcast format, but both the staffs at the conference office and Cooperative Media did a great job. We couldn’t have asked for more support.”

Videos of the conference are available for staff members unable to attend the conference or who want to review selected sessions.



Film produced by MU Extension shown at national festival

A documentary produced by two extension staff members received a national showing Feb. 2 at the San Diego Black Film Festival, one of the largest events of its kind in the country. Battle: Change from Within—produced last year by Julie Middleton, MU Extension director of organizational development, and Michael Hicks, video producer with MU Extension’s Cooperative Media Group—tells the story of Columbia civil rights leader Eliot Battle.

picture Michael Hicks and Julie Middleton

"There are a lot of stories about civil rights," Hicks said. "We wanted this film to be different in that we focused on the aspects of Eliot's personality that allowed him to be successful, working sometimes behind the scenes and within the existing systems and structures of the community to make significant changes."

Juanamaría Cordones-Cook, MU Spanish professor, and Barbara Herndon Williamson, MU associate professor of counseling psychology, co-directed and co-produced the film with Hicks and Middleton.

Screenings in Columbia included a Feb. 5 showing and community discussion at the Ragtag Cinema that filled the 150-seat theater. There will be another screening on Feb. 24 at the Columbia Public Library.

"We are pleased the Columbia community has embraced and taken ownership of the film,” said Middleton.  “This is evidenced by the numerous screenings that have been sponsored by churches, educational and civic organizations.”

Of the film’s central theme, Middleton said: “It is important for a viewer to realize that anyone can make a difference in his or her community.  Every community has quiet, steadfast leaders who commit to change.”

The Mizzou Alumni Association published a feature story about the film. A trailer for the film is available for viewing. DVD copies can be purchased.



Communications tip: Know your audience

Duane Dailey, veteran MU Extension news writer, offers the following anecdote to illustrate a basic rule for all writers and speakers.

In the seminar he offered as part of an MU Extension job interview, Jared Decker, MU animal science geneticist, told of an insight he learned after speaking at the 2011 MU Thompson Farm field day. Following the seminar he realized he had “talked over the heads” of farmers.

He’s learned his lesson and strives to communicate at a more basic level when explaining breed improvement through applied genetics.

“I will leave farmers with one take-home message,” he said.

Key to communications: “Know your audience.”

Missouri beef farmers need to know the power of EPDs (expected progeny differences) when selecting sires. And the potential of DNA profiles when evaluating heifers. For most farmers, that’s foreign talk. Basic animal breeding comes first.

Decker said he knows that talking at the level of the audience is not “dumbing down.” It is bringing understanding up. He knows the challenge of talking science at a level understood by a broad audience.

“It’s my life-long goal.”

His goal fits all of us.



myLearn offers a range of self-training tools for employees

The myLearn feature of the university’s myHR online tool offers books, courses and other learning features on a variety of office-related topics, according to Megan Martin, training coordinator with the MU Extension human resources office.

myLearn is a way for employees to access training without having to leave their desks,” says Martin. “Users can set up a plan to utilize certain trainings, and keep track of where they are in that plan. Supervisors can recommend the trainings and books to their employees as part of their performance goals.”

Access myLearn by clicking on myHR: Sign in with your pawprint and password, then follow the path “Main Menu>Self Service>Personal Information>HR Training – myLearn.” Once inside, users can click on “Catalog” to obtain online training sessions or on “Books 24X7” to obtain online books.

Topics covered include time management, work/life balance, business writing, improving listening skills, team management, and health issues.



State group seeks to reduce nutrient runoff in Mississippi Basin

Nutrient loads can cause problems with water quality. That’s why the Missouri Nutrient Reduction Strategy Committee is working to reduce the amount of nutrients that end up in the Mississippi River.

The committee, comprising 31 organizations and individuals, formed in 2011 when the federal Environmental Protection Agency offered grants to states in the Mississippi River Basin to develop and implement nutrient reduction strategies.

Before taking steps to reduce the nutrient load, it’s important to understand where the nutrients are coming from, said Bob Broz, an MU Extension assistant professor and member of the committee.

“We’re looking at non-point source pollution such as fertilizer use, and we’re looking at point source pollution that is produced under different permitting processes,” Broz said.

Non-point source pollution comes from sources that generally can’t be determined precisely, such as runoff from farms, parks and lawns. Broz says non-point source accounts for about 90 percent of the nutrient load.

Read the complete story from the MU Cooperative Media Group.



Upcoming events

Tribute to Women award nominations due Feb. 25

“Do you know any fabulous female faculty, students or staff members who have worked to make MU a better place for women?” asks Noel Ann English, director of the MU Office of Equity. “Please check out this award and consider submitting a nomination to the Tribute to Women, sponsored by the chancellor’s status of women committee.”

Deadline for nominations is Feb. 25. Go to the award page for the nomination form and additional details.



Fee-generation workshops set

Workshops have been scheduled to explain additional functions and updates to the Fee Generation Worksheet-Online Tool. Register through ISE for the following workshop dates:




10-11 a.m.


2-3 p.m.


Other dates to remember

Feb. 21: Abstracts due for Cambio de Colores (Change of Colors). Full call for abstracts available at

March 1: Quarterly Teamwork Award nominations for the first quarter of 2013 are due. Additional information, including eligibility and evaluation criteria, is available at Submit nomination forms to Bev Coberly at 108A Whitten Hall, Columbia, MO 65211 or

March 1: Ratchford Fellowship award nomination materials are due. Award submission guidelines may be accessed at:

March 25-29: Community Development Academy. Limited scholarships for registration fees are available. Contact Tracie Vangel at 573-882-8393 or for more information, or go to Registration deadline is March 11.

April 3: UM Almuni Alliance Legislative Day, Jefferson City. “In connection with the day, all faculty members attending Legislative Day are encouraged to participate in a mid-day ISE,” says Sandy Stegall.  “The theme this year is ASAP: Action for Sustainability and Progress.”  Registration is available at for both Legislative Day and the ISE. Deadline for registration is March 27.



Coming and going


George Laur, leader of extension publications, is retiring March 8 after 28 years with extension and agricultural information. His staff invites friends and colleagues to a reception—2-4 p.m., March 8, at S016 Memorial Union—to celebrate his career and the next chapter of his life.

Joyce Jerman, assistant, NE Family Nutrition Program, effective Feb. 26.

Arthur Schneider, human development specialist, West Central HES, effective Feb. 21.




Our sympathy goes out to:

Sheila Bruns, youth program associate, Clay County, and her family upon the death of her grandfather, Clifford Hughes, Feb. 3.  If you would like to send a card, her address is 210 Fayette, North Kansas City, MO  64116.

Verlinda Talley, secretary, Henry County, and her family upon the death of her mother, Berniece James, Feb. 6. Memorial contributions suggested to the Henry County Library for Large Print Books or the Henry County 4-H Endowment and can be left in care of the Sheldon Goodrich Funeral Home in Osceola.

Cindy Harper, executive staff assistant to the vice provost of extension, and her family upon the death of her father-in-law, Larry Harper, Feb. 10. Memorials can be made to First Christian Church, 100 N. High Street, Kirksville, MO 63501.

Pat Buchanan, retired assistant to the associate vice provost, and her family upon the death of her husband, Walter (Tom) Buchanan, retired business and industry specialist who served 21 counties in northwest Missouri, Feb. 12. The family requests memorial donations be made to the Pat and Tom Buchanan Endowed Fund at MU. The fund is used to support professional development for MU Extension faculty. Contributions can be sent to MU Extension Development, 109-F Whitten Hall, Columbia, MO 65211. Condolences can be posted at Cards may be sent to Pat Buchanan at 3817 Trefoil Dr., Columbia, MO 65203.



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.