News for employees

MU Extension Insider
November 15, 2012


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

Gagnon appointed director of communications

Dennis Gagnon, communications director for the City of Kansas City, Mo. since 2010, has been appointed director of communications for MU Extension, effective early December.

In his current role, Gagnon is responsible for the city’s publications, website, social media, cable TV station, public and media relations, marketing and internal communications.  His office also supports the city’s customer relations management activities and provides counsel for communications specialists located in local government agencies and departments.

“I am pleased that someone with Dennis’ considerable knowledge and experience has agreed to give leadership to our varied communications functions,” said Michael Ouart, vice provost and director.  “We look forward to having Dennis on the MU Extension team.”

Gagnon earned a B.S. in broadcasting and film from the University of Central Missouri and an M.S. in journalism from the University of Kansas.

Gagnon has prior experience with MU Extension. From 2004-2006, he was a film and TV producer with the unit that is now the Cooperative Media Group.  Prior to that, he was an independent consultant in Gagnon Media Inc., working with clients to create solutions for retail training, internal communications, marketing, sales and advertising.  He was a writer producer, production coordinator and production/facilities manager with Hallmark Cards, 1986-97, and director of audio-visual for the House of Lloyd, 1982-86. He also has experience in crisis and emergency management training for public information officers through FEMA, SEMA, the City of Kansas City and the Missouri Office of Emergency Management.

Serving as an adjunct faculty member for Avila University since 2009, Gagnon has taught public relations, promotional writing, consumer behavior, and the writing of plans, proposals and presentations.

Gagnon was selected from a highly qualified pool of communications professionals. He will be housed in Whitten Hall and will be available via email and phone soon.

“I want to thank the search committee and chair Rhonda Gibler for conducting a very thorough and professional recruiting, interviewing and facilitation process,” Ouart said. 

With Gagnon’s arrival, Mark Stillwell, interim director of the CMG, will transition into a new role. 

“Given the unique experience and insights Mark has acquired by serving in multiple roles in Extension, we would like to focus his efforts over the next three years on moving forward several high-priority strategic initiatives,” said Ouart. 


The Morrill Act and the history of extension


In this short video Tom Henderson, emeritus vice provost for Extension, asks viewers to reflect on the legacy of the Morrill Act, passed in 1862 when Abraham Lincoln was president. In the presentation, Henderson highlights the dramatic difference between what a large land-grant university looks like today, having grown from the humble beginnings of our nation’s land-grant colleges and universities 150 years ago. The video is also available on the share drive: S:\UMSystem\Coop Media\Video.


On the hunt for news tips of interest to a statewide audience

Kent Faddis, TV news producer with MU Extension’s Cooperative Media Group, wants to remind all field and campus faculty that CMG is always in the market for news tips on MU Extension projects of high impact or innovative quality that would be of interest to an external statewide audience.

“We’re constantly looking for ideas for good news stories,” says Faddis. “Your efforts on campus or in the field may seem mundane to you, but they may be news to other audiences around Missouri or across the nation. Please don’t hesitate to send us tips for possible video, radio or print news stories.”

Anyone with an idea for a news story should contact Faddis at or 573-882-5361.


Write shorter news stories. Keep your readers

A communications tip from Duane Dailey

Editors tell me space is getting tighter. They want shorter stories. A weekly editor scoffed at the idea of using a 650-word story. I cringed! I try to shorten my stories to 650 words.

Editors are competing for the eyes of busy people.

I see many of Wayne Flanary’s stories in newspapers across the Northwest Region. When I asked him at Annual Conference, he said his stories run about 300 words. Editors find space for stories that size.

Wayne has skills in telling a lot in a short space. He will get readers of his agronomy news. Remember, the editor stands between you and your readers. A long story isn’t any good if it doesn’t get in the paper.

I use this trick to shorten my stories. Cut adjectives and adverbs. Adjectives add hype. Adverbs add no metrics. Your story will be stronger—and shorter—without them. Those modifiers add opinion, not fact. 

Try it. Take out your last story and delete those extra words. See what you think.

If the story becomes stronger with adverbs, please send it to me at I want to learn how that’s done.


National honor goes to BDP-facilitated economic revitalization project in Boonville

The national University Economic Development Association last month honored an economic revitalization project boosted by the efforts of an MU Extension central Missouri business development specialist. The Boonville-based project received UEDA’s 2012 Award of Excellence.

The project—“Kemper Military School Redevelopment Project: Repurposing historic structures, maintaining community values”—facilitated by Boonville resident Jim Gann, director of technology business development at the University Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship housed with the MU Small Business & Technology Development Center, was developed as an approach to use the 46-acre Kemper Military School campus, which closed in 2002. Loss of the academy cost the city of Boonville its sole private education institution and hundreds of cadets, as well as dozens of positions for instructors and administrative support staff. 

Through a series of planning sessions and meetings with educational administrators and city officials, a partnership was established through which Sedalia-based State Fair Community College opened a new campus on the Kemper grounds last September. The campus is expected to draw hundreds of students, many of whom will be local residents who no longer have to commute, and to create up to 50 part- or full-time jobs.

“Winning this prestigious award is a great honor,” said Max Summers, director of the MU Extension Business Development Program, the administrative home for the SBTDC and the University Center. “It speaks to the dedication, imagination and persistence of Jim, our organization, State Fair, the city of Boonville and other partners in growing Missouri’s economy by smart, sustainable means. This project is a model of effective redevelopment that can be replicated nationwide.”

For more information on the project, go to


On hand to celebrate the UEDA Award of Excellence for the Kemper Redevelopment Project were (left to right) Missouri state Sen. Kurt Schaefer; Jim Gann, director of technology business development at the MU University Center; Brent Bates, vice president, State Fair Community College; Julie Thacher, mayor of Boonville; and Sherri Kempf, legislative assistant to state Rep. Caleb Jones.



University of Missouri faculty recognition awards

Chancellor Brady J. Deaton and Provost Brian Foster hosted the 2012 Faculty Recognition awards ceremony Oct. 30 at the Reynolds Alumni Center. Several MU Extension faculty members were recognized.


Vice Provost’s Diversity Award

Forgive our oversight for not including in the previous issue of the Insider Donna Merhle and Candance Gabel as part of the team with Alejandra Guino and the Family Nutrition Education Programs Diversity Initiative for developing, adopting and implementing a formal diversity education plan, Tools for Critical Self-Reflection and Dialogue about Diversity.


Associations recognize excellence

In addition to the MU Extension Faculty Performance Awards and the UMEA Awards, other professional associations recognized excellence in their members at the recent Fall Conference. They included:

MAE4-HYW Award recipients for 2012

MEAFCS award winners

ESP award winners

MAEP Agriculture Leadership Award


Missouri Distinguished Service Award winner


Thomas R. Fowler received the Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of County Agriculture Agents during the group’s 2012 Annual Meeting and Professional Improvement Conference held in Charleston, S.C. Fowler was one of several honorees who represent the top two percent of the membership selected by their peers and the director of extension.  

Fowler’s career highlights as a horticulture specialist in Northwest Missouri include: working with the Great Plains Growers Conference, Master Gardener training, youth gardening and vegetable demonstration plots and helping consumer and commercial horticulture clients. He also assists colleagues with emerging issues in the region.


Year end address update

“It’s getting close to the end of the tax year,” says Diane Dews, extension payroll and benefits manager. “Now is the time to verify or update your address (es) to help ensure correct delivery of W-2 forms next January.  Addresses should be updated no later than 12/31/2012!”

Personal information can be changed at “myHR”:  Go to “Self Service: Personal Information.”

The “HOME” address is where W-2 forms will be mailed unless a “MAILING” address is provided.  For example, if an employee provides a home address of 123 Providence, Columbia, MO and a mailing address 123 Quivira, Overland Park, KS, the W-2 will be mailed to the Kansas address. 

MU is not able to process reprints of W-2s for any reason until the middle of February. Updating your address will help reduce the need for reprints.


Upcoming events

Earn Your $100 Wellness Incentive


As part of your 2013 benefits, you are eligible for a wellness incentive, says Melissa Willett, with the UM System Wellness Project. Healthy for Life is an incentive-based wellness program designed to help you earn your incentive and actively manage your health. By completing a personal health assessment, health screening and 240 minutes of physical activity, primary subscribers to the UM health plans will receive $100 in a tax-favored account to use for medical expenses in 2013 Benefit Plan year.

Earn $100 in three easy steps:

  1. Complete your personal health assessment--an online questionnaire that helps you understand your health risks and provides you with resources to improve your well-being. (Between Oct. 15, 2012 and Apr. 30, 2013.)
  2. Complete your health screening, which includes cholesterol, blood sugar, blood pressure, height and weight. You can schedule a FREE on campus screening or visit your health care provider. (Valid screenings are between June 1, 2012 and April 30, 2013.)
  3. Track 240 minutes of physical activity in any calendar month. (Between Oct. 15, 2012 and April 30, 2013.)

 Ready to get started?

  1. Create or return to your Cerner Health account by visiting
  2. Enter your email address and join the program.
  3. If you need help, call Cerner at 877-621-8014.

For 2013 screening schedules by campus:

  1. MU
  2. UMKC
  3. Missouri S&T  
  4. UMSL

More information is available online at .


Learn to eat for health and enjoyment

Discover the benefits of this innovative approach to weight management through Healthy for Life’s Eat for Life course.  This 10-week program uses mind-body practices (meditations and yoga), the principles of mindful and intuitive eating, skills training, and group support to guide you in making lifestyle changes that will help you create a healthier relationship to your food, mind, and body. If you have a history of chronic dieting, have rigid “healthy” rules about eating, or find yourself eating when you’re stressed, bored, or unhappy, this may be the program for you. 


Online classes in Columbia, Kansas City, Rolla, St. Louis


Lower your stress in just eight weeks

Helping employees manage stress effectively is a key goal of Healthy for Life. The wellness program offers eight-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction classes at minimal cost to benefit-eligible employees looking to manage today's busy lifestyles in a healthy way. This is an eight–week class teaching meditation, yoga and other mind-body techniques for managing stress. There is a $40 registration fee, $20 reimbursement if you attend seven of the eight classes. 



St. Louis:


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:

Date Time
10/22/2012 10-11 a.m.
11/19/2012 2-3 p.m.
12/19/2012 10-11 a.m.


Other dates to remember

Dec. 2: 4-H day with the Rams.  You are invited to join other Missouri and Illinois 4-H members, volunteers, family, and friends for 4‑H Day at the Edward Jones Dome at noon Dec. 2, to watch the St. Louis Rams take on the San Francisco 49ers.  Tickets for the game can be purchased over the phone (314-425-0528), or by mail or fax using the 4-H Ticket Order Form on the event flier at You can also order tickets online at using the promo code “4h”.  Credit card orders will be accepted.

Dec. 11-13: NAEPSDP conference: conference registration information and the agenda are available online Contact Julie Middleton, president-elect of NAEPSDP, with questions.

Dec. 23: 4-H day with the Chiefs. Tickets are specially discounted for all 4-H members, families and friends at $25/seat. Tickets are subject to availability. Call Ryan Youngs at 816-920-4830 or e-mail

April 3: UM Almuni Alliance Legislative Day, Jefferson City.


Coming and going

Please welcome

Karin Burgess, administrative assistant in AMT-Fiscal

Lisa Smail, nutrition program associate, NE-Family Nutrition Program.



Laura Wemhoener, administrative associate I, SC-Region.

Clara Green, 4-H specialist, SE-Region Youth.

Betty Baney, 4-H youth development program assistant, SC-Region Youth.



Our sympathy goes out to:

Don Pfost, associate professor emeritus agriculture engineering, and his family for the loss of his wife, Wilma Elizabeth Pfost, on Sept. 27. Because Don worked so closely with Charlie Fulhage, Don suggests donations can be made to the Charles D. Fulhage Memorial Scholarship in Mrs. Pfost’s name.

Karen Wright, Hickory County secretary, whose mother, Billie Morrison, passed away Nov. 13. Visitation will be Nov. 15, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Holman-Howe Funeral Home in Lebanon, Mo.  The funeral service will be Nov. 16, at 11 a.m. at the same location. Cards can be sent to: Karen and David Wright, RR 1, Box 1525, Hermitage, MO 65668.


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 Mark Stillwell, CMG interim director.