News for employees

MU Extension Insider
March 18, 2014


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

UM System establishes ethics and compliance hotline

The UM System has established an ethics and compliance hotline, according to Melinda Adams, MU Extension human resources director. The hotline provides employees with an anonymous avenue for reporting suspected incidences of ethics or compliance abuses, including  fraud and fiscal misconduct, and medical, human resources, research, athletics, and environmental health and safety issues.

The reporting system is both Web- and telephone-based and is available on a 24-hour/365-day basis. A recent article from the UM finance division contains more information on the hotline. Adams says additional avenues for reporting concerns include employee supervisors, the diversity catalyst teams, MU Extension EEOC officer Julie Middleton, or Adams.


Sustainability contest seeks entries from county offices

Don Day, MU Extension associate – energy, has a reminder for all MU Extension county offices: “We would like to have stories about the sustainability efforts you are making in your county extension offices.”

Send a report on your county office’s sustainability efforts to Day by June 1, for entry in a contest to be judged by members of the Council to Campus. At the June conference in Columbia, council members will select a winner and runner-up. Day says the winning office will receive a package of marketing items worth $50; the runner-up will receive a marketing pack valued at $25.

For more details on the contest, refer to Day’s MU sustainability article in the Jan. 21 edition of The MU Extension Insider.


Dairy margin protection insurance is new but not complicated

When milk producers first hear of the Margin Protection Program for Dairy Producers, they become confused about the new farm bill safety net.

“It is new and different, but it really isn’t complicated,” says Joe Horner, MU Extension agricultural economist.

Margin insurance, however, takes more planning than the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) in past farm bills. Milk producers will sign up at local USDA Farm Service Agency offices. FSA charges a $100 annual administrative fee.

However, Horner cautions that FSA is not ready to take enrollments. The agency is still writing regulations. Meanwhile, MILC continues until the margin protection program arrives, no later than Sept. 1. 

Read more about the dairy margin protection program or download the MU Extension guide “How to Compute Your Cost of Producing Milk.”


MU Extension delegation visits Washington, D.C.

MU Extension administrators and volunteers visited Washington D.C., in early March with the Council for Agricultural Research, Extension and Teaching (CARET). They went to Capitol Hill to thank the members of Congress for their support of the farm bill and to discuss the fiscal 2015 budget request. The MU Extension group met with Missouri Reps. Vicky Hartzler, Sam Graves, Billy Long and Jason Smith.

MU delegation to Washington D.C.(Left to right) Craig Stevenson, UM System federal relations director; Bev Coberly, associate vice provost and associate director of MU Extension; Rep. Billy Long; Dave Baker, MU Extension agriculture program director; and Tom Brown, Lincoln University extension volunteer.


Fall, winter weather makes grain bin safety critical this spring

A wet fall harvest and a cold winter might make conditions especially dangerous this spring for grain producers emptying grain bins to fulfill commodity contracts and prepare for wheat harvest.

In 2010 there were a record 26 deaths nationwide due to grain bin accidents, according to U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration reports. And there were many more unreported “near misses,” say MU Extension specialists Willard Downs and Frank Wideman.

Last fall’s wet harvest and this winter’s record-setting cold may result in crusted, spoiled and wet grain, increasing the danger. Find more information on grain bin safety  in an expanded article.


Rural community emerges from food desert with new grocery

When is a grocery store more than just a grocery store? When it’s the first grocery store in town in more than five years.

Residents of the west-central Missouri town of Pilot Grove greeted the arrival of Tyler’s Market with enthusiasm last fall.

“It’s heaven-sent for us, because at our age it’s very difficult to get out and get groceries,” says longtime Pilot Grove resident Pat Dill, 81.

Food shopperThe Cooper County town of more than 700 citizens saw its last grocery close in 2008. That left residents with lengthy trips to Boonville, Marshall or Sedalia to forage for food.

Though surrounded by farmland, Pilot Grove had become a food desert.

Read the story of a motivated group of Pilot Grove residents who after wandering five years in a food desert attracted a new grocery store to town, with the help of MU Extension community development specialist Connie Mefford.

An audio version of the story also is available.


Many 4-H hog weigh-ins suspended to slow spread of PED virus

Spring weigh-ins for 4-H pig projects are being waived throughout much of Missouri to slow the spread of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV).

MU livestock specialists, 4-H specialists, fair board members and agriculture teachers discussed suspending weigh-ins on a recent conference call, says Marcia Shannon, MU Extension swine specialist.

Since last spring, PEDV has killed 4 to 5 million pigs in 25 states. Missouri, however, has had only 48 confirmed cases of PEDV.

“Missouri’s very fortunate to have a low number of disease cases,” Shannon said. Suspending weigh-ins is one way to help keep those numbers low.

No state mandates have been issued for noncommercial operations regarding PEDV, which does not pose a health risk to humans.

An expanded story offers details on the effort to slow the disease.


MU researchers study atmospheric trigger of thunderstorms

thunderstormThis month a team of MU CAFNR atmospheric science researchers will deploy to eastern Kansas and western Missouri to study a poorly understood phenomenon called elevated convection that can trigger rainfall-intense thunderstorms.

Their data will create a model of how this condition generates large storms, which often lead to flash flooding. This will be the first time that measurements will be taken of temperature changes and instability patterns before, during and after elevated convection events.

Discover the details of this research from a team led by Patrick Market and Neil Fox, MU atmospheric scientists. Their investigation could improve the accuracy and timeliness of flash food forecasting, potentially saving lives.


Missouri winter produces frost quakes, low precipitation

Severe temperature swings at the end of January and beginning of February produced a rare event for Missouri: cryoseism, or “frost quakes,” according to Pat Guinan, climatologist for MU Extension’s Commercial Agriculture Program.

“We had a few days of higher temperatures that allowed the ground to thaw. Then temperatures dropped 50 degrees or so to below zero in a single day, causing soil moisture to freeze and expand rapidly,” Guinan says. “This stress produced sudden cracking and loud popping noises emanating from the soil.”

The phenomenon is more typical in the northern plains of the U.S. and Canada, but this winter conditions were right for frost quakes in Missouri.

It wasn’t just temperature that was below normal. For the past three months, precipitation in Missouri has been below normal too.

“Ironically, when you look at snowfall numbers, they’re running above normal,” Guinan said. “But when you melt all the snow and ice it didn’t add up to much precipitation.”

Guinan says the dry conditions continued through the end of February. Even parts of southern Missouri were dry last month. Parts of northern and central Missouri have been dry since last summer, with precipitation 10 to 12 inches below normal.

The U.S. Drought Monitor map has much of Missouri in an abnormally dry condition or a moderate drought condition. Guinan says Missouri needs recharge both above and below the ground.

For more information, go to the Missouri Climate Center website.


Upcoming events

Centennial celebration on campus May 1

For 100 years, MU Extension has improved lives and communities across Missouri by offering programs and providing valuable information based on research from the university.

You’re invited to help mark extension's centennial at an on-campus event to celebrate the past and build for the future. MU Extension representatives from across the state will be on hand to share information about extension’s impact on MU students, faculty and staff. A new student-driven service learning project will be announced that will benefit all 114 counties in the state over the next five years. Chancellor Loftin, state legislators, Truman the Tiger and others will be present for the celebration on May 1, 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m. at Carnahan Quad. The program begins at noon.

Visit the newly updated MU Extension Centennial website for information and resources.


Four one-day fescue schools to run week of March 31

Four one-day fescue schools across the state will kick off a campaign later this month to replace toxic tall fescue with new fescue varieties that won’t harm grazing livestock. The programs will feature speakers from MU, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, the seed industry and farmers.

“Farmers like farm success stories,” says Craig Roberts, MU forage agronomist. “We learned at grazing schools that our best teachers are often the farmers who use science-based practices.”

The programs, the first in the nation, are sponsored by the Alliance for Grassland Renewal. They will be held across the state, moving south to north, at MU CAFNR research centers. Plots of the new fescue varieties will be shown.

The schools and local contacts are:

  • March 31, Mount Vernon; MU Southwest Research Center. Carla Rathmann, 417-466-2148.
  • April 1, Cook Station; MU Wurdack Farm. Will McClain, 573-775-2135.
  • April 2, Columbia; MU Beef Research and Teaching Farm on Highway 63 South. Lena Johnson, 573-882-7327.
  • April 3, Linneus; MU Forage Systems Research Center. Tamie Carr, 660-895-5121.

The schools run 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at each location. Pre-registration is required. Details are available on the Alliance website at or from the local contacts. Read more about the fescue schools.


2014 NTT dossier workshop scheduled for May 12

A one-hour non-tenure track dossier training workshop is set for 1:30 p.m. May 12. The “NTT: Preparing your Dossier” workshop, presented via Adobe Connect, is intended for anyone preparing dossiers or who will be writing evaluation letters for candidates, according to Johanna Adams, MU community leadership development state specialist.

Individuals planning to submit a dossier for promotion in the fall are strongly encouraged to attend the workshop, Reed says. Register through the ISE system to attend (ISE #232).

“Learn about the guidelines, general information and tips to improving your dossier,” says Reed. “The voluntary NTT promotion policy is for full-time, non-regular faculty members within MU Extension. This process applies to regional faculty members and to campus faculty members in an academic unit that does not have an NTT process.”

Extension faculty members may apply for one of three ranked positions: assistant extension professional, associate extension professional or extension professional. For faculty members who elect to participate, the NTT promotion system provides a mechanism to recognize extension scholarship and professional growth. Regional and campus faculty members who plan to apply for the next round should discuss their plans with their supervisors as they build their performance expectations for fiscal 2015.

The next round of applications is due to supervisors by Nov. 1. Contact Adams for answers to questions on the NTT process.


Order health screening kits by April 4 for wellness incentive

Active primary subscribers to UM medical plans can earn a $100 wellness incentive in their final May paycheck and will be entered in a drawing for prizes, says Tracey Westfield, communications specialist with UM staff benefits. To receive the incentive, subscribers must complete an online personal health assessment (PHA) and a health screening.

“You have three health screening options, one of which is a home-based screening using a Home Access kit,” says Westfield. “To give you enough time to receive, use and submit your kit by the incentive deadline, you must order your home access kit by April 4.”

Your information will be kept confidential; strict policies are followed to protect personal information. For details about other health screening options, the PHA and the prize drawing, visit this website.


Fee-generation workshops

Workshops have been scheduled to explain additional functions and updates to the Fee-generation Worksheet-Online Tool. Register through ISE up to one week before the workshop. Sessions that do not have at least four registrants will be canceled and registrants will be asked to choose an alternative date.

2014 workshops

March 19

10-11 a.m.

April 17

2-3 p.m.

June 19

2-3 p.m.

July 16

10-11 a.m.

Aug. 21

2-3 p.m.


Moodle workshops

Extension Technology and Computer Services (ETCS) is conducting half-day online Moodle course-development workshops. Dates and times for the balance of the year:

  • April 8, 12:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
  • May 6, 12:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
  • June 3, 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
  • July 2, 12:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
  • Aug. 8, 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
  • Sept. 10, 12:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
  • Oct. 7, 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
  • Nov. 6, 12:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
  • Dec. 5, 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.


Other dates to remember

March 24-28: Community development training with CDA in St. Louis.

March 29: Northland Ethnic Festival, 11 a.m.-3:30 p.m., Park Hill South High School, 4500 NW River Park Drive, Riverside, Mo.

April 4: Deadline for ordering Wellness Incentive Health Screening Kits.

May 1: Centennial Celebration, 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m. at Carnahan Quad. The program begins at noon.

May 12: 2014 NTT dossier workshop via Adobe Connect, 1:30 p.m.

May 17: 4-H Day with the Cardinals. Forms are available at

June 1: Deadline for submitting county office sustainability reports.

June 10-11: 2014 CPD conference in Columbia.

July 13-17 & 20-24: Summers @ Mizzou. For more information, contact Teresa Bishop at 573-884-0554 or go to


Coming and going

Please welcome

Cynthia Stephens, clinical instructor, Extension Nursing Outreach

Sarah Estes, youth program associate, Audrain County, NE Region

Penny Kittle, youth program assistant, Sullivan County, NE Region

DeNae Gitonga, community development specialist, Madison County, SE Region

Mark Eye, temporary administrative professional, Columbia campus

Joni Houghton, youth program assistant, Newton County, SW Region


Please bid farewell

Allison Rentfro, Continuing Medical Education program director, has resigned effective April 4 to take a similar position at Yale University.



Whitney Wiegel, ag business specialist and CPD in Lafayette County, has assumed interim CPD responsibilities in Carroll County, NW Region.

Meridith Berry, family financial education specialist, will become CPD in Grundy County, NW Region, April 1.



Elsie Tucker died Feb. 28. She was the mother of Lynda LaRocque, secretary in Taney County.


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.