News for employees

MU Extension Insider
October 15, 2011


In the news

Upcoming events

Coming and going


MU Extension Insider is published on the first and 15th of the month. Send feedback and comments to Karen Dickey.

In the news

Your feedback wanted on Strategic Plan

A note from Michael Ouart:


We are seeking your feedback on our new MU Extension Strategic Plan. The intent of this plan is to identify the overarching strategic goals that unite MU Extension as an entity and provide the framework to identify specific, priority actions that will drive successful outcomes for the future. Program directors, regional directors, continuing education directors, support unit leaders and the administrative cabinet all contributed to this draft and want your feedback prior to implementation.

Use the Web link below to access the plan and complete a short questionnaire. Allow about 30 minutes to read the strategic plan and give us your feedback on how well it pulls together the themes under which our high-priority work will take place in the coming years. Please keep in mind that at this level the plan is not intended to voice all the specific high-priority activities but to create a framework for annual work plans.

All the best,
Michael D. Ouart

MU Extension Strategic Plan Feedback Questionnaire


October is National Farm to School Month

The Farm to School movement, which promotes more local fruits and vegetables on school lunch trays, is increasingly popular with students, school administrators and parents across the U.S. At least 78 districts in Missouri and more than 2,300 districts nationwide run Farm to School programs. Kent Faddis reports.

See also: Related news release by Roger Meissen: Farm to School program thrives in its second year.


Report lauds extension's role in regional economic growth

Seanicaa Edwards, left, swine economist for MU Extension's Commercial Agriculture program, with Joseph Dolginow, graduate research assistant in ag economics. The Commercial Ag program is one example of the land-grant university's role in advancing the agriculture sector through research, education and outreach.

Food, health, energy and the environment are among the most vital concerns when it comes to human survival and quality of life. A new report from the Battelle Institute says agriculture and agricultural bioscience (“agbioscience”) provide wide-ranging opportunities to address those concerns and serve as powerful engines for economic growth and job creation in the U.S.—especially the nation’s 12-state north-central region, which includes Missouri.

“Power and Promise: Agbioscience in the North Central United States” credits the region’s land-grant universities, including their extension services and experiment stations, with a central role in American agriculture’s rise to global preeminence, arguing that continued support for them is vital to realizing the opportunities offered by the 21st century economy.

Read the report.

See also: Related news release by Curt Wohleber: Ag, bioscience make north-central U.S. an economic 'powerhouse'.


Hedrick re-elected vice president of NAFTD

David Hedrick, director of the MU Fire and Rescue Training Institute, was re-elected to another two-year term as vice president of North American Fire Training Directors (NAFTD) during the organization's annual meeting in September.

NAFTD is an international organization that promotes quality training and educational experiences for firefighters in the U.S. and Canada.


4-H missions in space


Twenty-nine youth and adults from all over Missouri recently traveled to the Space Camp at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala., to participate in the Space Camp's Pathfinder program, reports Don Nicholson, MU 4-H youth development specialist.

During three days of nonstop activities exploring the past, present and future of manned space flight, participants were immersed in hands-on training for a space shuttle mission. They experienced both shuttle and space station simulators, such as the G-Force Accelerator, Multi-Axis Trainer and 1/6 Gravity Chair.

Guided tours through the History of Space Museum prepared participants for a team “Space Bowl” quiz competition. The teams designed mission patches and constructed and launched their own solid-booster rockets.  For many, the highlight of the Pathfinder program was the Shuttle Mission Simulation. The trainees worked together to launch the shuttle to the International Space Station, completed experiments that approximated those conducted in space and returned their crew safely to Earth.

Participants also enjoyed a tour and demonstrations at Russell Cave National Monument in Bridgeport, Ala. The archaeological site contains the most complete record of prehistoric cultures in the Southeast.

"The trip gave the participants a wide perspective of history, time and human progress through the ages," Nicholson said.

See also: Space Camp photo gallery.


County clerical staff honored for service, commitment

Seven county clerical staff members received honors for their contributions to the MU Extension mission and service to their communities:

Senior Clerical Award
1st place Presha Earney, Crawford County
2nd place Debbie McSperitt, St. Clair County
3rd place Lynda LaRocque, Taney County
Rookie of the Year Award
1st place Verna Simkins, Newton County
2nd place Nicole Arn, Buchanan County
3rd place Vickie Kilgore, Clinton County
Technology Award
1st place Tammy Woodworth, Howell County

More information about the awards.


MU Extension specialist appointed to strategic planning committee

Michael Ouart selected Cynthia Crawford, family financial education specialist, to represent MU Extension as part of the MU Strategic Planning and Resource Allocation Committee (SPRAC). SPRAC members advise the chancellor and provost on how best to prepare MU for the future.

“What I found is that it is a committee that cares deeply about the future of the University of Missouri-Columbia,” Crawford said. “They begin by looking at a strategic planning document, not a document that sits on the shelf, but a document that's truly used to direct and guide the university into the future.”

Chaired by Patricia Okker, MU professor of English, SPRAC will evaluate the university’s strengths and challenges as MU’s leaders look ahead to 2020.

“I actually was quite encouraged after the first meeting that I attended because I saw that this committee was dealing with really important issues,” Crawford said.  “We're talking about a business model for academia that looks at balancing the resource base with what we can achieve at the University of Missouri.”

Crawford will serve a three-year term. She replaces Jo Britt-Rankin, associate dean of HES Extension, who represented MU Extension on the committee since 2005.


St. Louis Cardinals named 4-H 'Bridge Builder'

The St. Louis Cardinals were honored with the Missouri 4-H Foundation Nelson Trickey Bridge Builder Award Sept. 30 in Columbia. Since 2002, the Cardinals and 4-H organizations in Missouri and Illinois have partnered to offer 4-H Day with the Cardinals, bringing more than 21,000 fans to Busch Stadium, and raising nearly $50,000 for Missouri and Illinois college scholarships.

“We are pleased to partner with 4-H in this event,” said Joe Strohm, St. Louis Cardinals vice president of ticket sales. “This day is a highlight of May on our calendar, and we appreciate the time and effort of 4-H to make it a success.”

The Missouri 4-H Foundation Nelson Trickey Bridge Builder Award is presented to individuals or organizations for their exceptional service bridging youth and community.

“The St. Louis Cardinals provide outstanding support of 4-H youth through 4-H Day with the Cardinals,” said Cheryl Reams, executive director of the Missouri 4-H Foundation. "The event surpasses all others with the benefits it provides to 4-H members through college scholarships."


Thousands view photo show in Clinton, Mo.

There’s no official count on how many people viewed the print exhibit at the end of the weeklong Missouri Photo Workshop in Clinton, Mo. However, there are “aerial” photos of the constant flow of visitors.

"Those who are good at extension crowd estimations can go to the MPW website to see the setup of the show—and the visitors. It’s kind of like 'Where's Waldo?'," says Duane Dailey, Cooperative Media Group senior writer and longtime extension photojournalist.

CORRECTION on the item in the previous Insider on the 63rd annual workshop:

The item mentioned that Lisa Wallace, Henry County CPD, was on the welcome committee, along with husband Dan Wallace. Their daughter, Whitney Wallace, is an MU ag journalism graduate, not Dan, who is an MU ag education graduate.

Whitney, director of consumer outreach for the Missouri Beef Industry Council, is in the crowd photo at the MPW show--if you can find her.


Lena Johnson wins Giant Pumpkin contest

PumpkinThe new champion in the annual Giant Pumpkin Contest at the MU Animal Science Center is Lena Johnson, administrative assistant. At the weigh-in this year, her entry tipped the scales at 33.5 pounds. “It’s the smallest Giant Pumpkin to ever win,” she says.

Some history: Matt Lucy, bovine reproduction scientist, starts the seedlings each spring and then hands them out to grad students, faculty and staff to grow wherever and however they can.

The usual heavy hitters are not talking this year. Excuses of floods and droughts abound. Lena is not sharing her winning tips, except to say it took lots of water late in the season. No details on her fertilizer formula.

When not winning pumpkin contests, Lena keeps the MU Extension animal science specialists organized. No details on how she does that either.


Scott Brown moves back onto MU campus

Those trying to track Scott Brown should go to the east end of the second floor of Mumford Hall. He’s moved from his former Park de Ville address to the MU campus.

He will continue his work as a  livestock and dairy economist doing economic modeling of policy alternatives and will work closely with others on extension activities.

Address: 215 Mumford Hall, MU, Columbia, MO, 65211. His phone remains the same: 573-882-3861.


Strunk: 283, 5.2; 197, 4.9; 188, 5.3

Writing reference tip from Duane Dailey:

“The Elements of Style” - I’ve been using this grammar book since graduate school. The original, written by William Strunk of Cornell in 1918, was updated by E.B. White, editor at The New Yorker, in 1959. It’s been selling ever since. Just proves old can be helpful.

“Elementary Rules of Usage” still help me. And, I recommend them to all writers.

On Page 1, Strunk started with how to form possessives, giving examples.

A common error is to write it’s for its, or vice versa.  The first is a contraction, meaning "it is." The second is a possessive.

It’s a wise dog that scratches its own fleas.

That’s it: Clear and concise. After all these years, many writers still violate the rules.

The 71-page book also offers 21 style rules, including:

I say, heed them. However, research (on Wikipedia) shows that not all critics agree. One even chides its bossiness. But, that’s from an Edinburgh University grammarian. Strunk and White work just fine in Missouri.


Upcoming events

Open enrollment and meetings on benefits changes

Important information from Tamra Robbins, MU Extension retirement and benefits coordinator:

Learn about new changes to your University of Missouri benefits package for 2012 by attending an Annual Enrollment Meeting. Information regarding new health program options, tax-favored savings accounts, and how to earn a $100 wellness incentive will be addressed.

Each campus will hold informational meetings during the Oct. 17-Nov. 4 annual enrollment period. All eligible University of Missouri Extension employees are encouraged to attend one of these meetings. The campus schedule is posted on the UM System “My Total Rewards” website under myToDoList. Extension employees not on or near a campus should enroll in ISE 281, “2012 Health Plan Changes and Annual Enrollment.”

Personal health assessment + health screenings = $100

University of Missouri Total Rewards invites you to join Healthy for Life, an incentive-based wellness program designed to help you actively manage your health. By completing a personal health assessment and health screening, primary subscribers to the UM Health Care plan will receive $100 in a tax-favored account to use for medical expenses in 2012 Benefit Plan year.

This year we’re partnering with Cerner Health to provide straightforward tools to help you work toward better health. You can participate in the program now. It’s simple. Here’s how:

  1. Create your Cerner Health account by visiting
  2. Enter your email address and join the program.
  3. 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.
  4. Complete your health screening at a location of your choosing:
  • For those who are on or near a campus, you can attend a screening event that’s close to you. For an up-to-date listing of events and locations, click here. Your health screening provides a look at your cholesterol, blood sugar, blood pressure, height and weight. If your screening is before noon, fasting for nine hours is recommended but not required (six hours if pregnant), and drinking 64 ounces of water the day before is suggested.
  • For those of you who are not on campus, you can obtain your screening with your health care provider and fax a completed form to us.
  • If neither of those options works for you, you may request a Home Access kit by calling 866-352-4372 between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, excluding holidays. The Home Access kit allows you to collect a small blood sample from your finger and mail it to the Home Access Health Corporation certified laboratory for processing.

If you have questions please contact Tamra Robbins or Diane Dews.


Galaxy Conference next month

Registration forms and the agenda for the Galaxy Conference, Nov. 1-2, are online at

There will be a top-notch keynote speaker and excellent sessions that will help your professional development. There will also be an auction and the chance to catch up with co-workers.

The deadline to register is Oct. 20. Don't wait until the last minute!

 There is no registration fee for attending Galaxy but attendees are responsible for transportation and room costs at the Windermere Conference Center.


eXtension Virtual Conference, Oct. 17-19

Join eXtension Oct. 17-19 for the2011 National eXtension Virtual Conference (NeVC2011). Excellent speakers! No fees! No registration needed! Worldwide interactions!

NeVC2011 brings together an outstanding lineup of speakers, including author Howard Rheingold, independent new media publisher Robin Good, Federal Consortium for Virtual Worlds leader Paulette Robinson, author Clay Shirky and author and television producer Steven Rosenbaum.

The speakers promise to challenge our ideas about reaching audiences. More about the speakers.

To attend the NeVC2011, go to NeVC2011 will also be available in Second Life (download flyer). Twitter hashtag: #nevc.

Grab your lunch, gather some colleagues around your desktop or laptop, and stay tuned for an outstanding professional development experience!

The following week, eXtension is holding a Virtual State Fair in Second Life.

"The fourth annual eXtension Virtual State Fair event in Second Life, Oct. 26-29, 2011, offers a fine opportunity to join colleagues for a visit to an immersive, social virtual world," says Terry Meisenbach, communications and marketing leader for eXtension. "New this year is the Land Grant University Expo, highlighting virtual world projects by educators around the country, with group tours departing for their regions each day."

Other attractions include a haunted house and live streaming music nightly at the Midway Bandstand.

Virtual State Fair information from eXtension.

Virtual State Fair in Second Life.


Coming and going

Please welcome

Lisa Gordley, NE nutrition associate.

Tysa Dant-Alexander, NE nutrition associate.

Andrew K. Morgan, user support analyst specialist, ETCS.

Heather A. Halterman, SW nutrition program associate.

Jennifer R. Nevatt, SW nutrition program associate.

Cindy Fry, CM nutrition program assistant.

Jenifer Block, CM nutrition program assistant.

Jane Henderson, CM nutrition program assistant.

Sarah Oser, CM nutrition program assistant.



Mary E. Ball, extension assistant, WC HES.

Annette T. FitzGerald, family financial education specialist, SW HES.

Donald R. Pinckney, SC 4-H youth development program assistant.



Sara Brooke, FNEP program manager, Nodaway County, on her marriage to Jared Stiens of Maryville on Sept. 24.


If you have items to include in future issues, please send them to Karen Dickey or Curt Wohleber in the Cooperative Media Group. If you have questions, contact Mark Stillwell, CMG interim director.