News for employees

MU Extension Insider
Jan. 21, 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

County-specific reports available on university impact

See how the university impacts your county by visiting this data-filled UM System website, suggests Cynthia Crawford, member of MU Extension’s public values self-directed work group.

The UM System university relations office produces this annual set of data sheets that show the university’s impact on the state, counties, congressional districts, and state house and senate districts. In previous years several counties have chosen to include their specific county impact pages in their annual reports, says Crawford.


State social services office chooses BDP to run jobs effort

Earlier this month the Missouri social services department chose MU Extension’s Business Development Program to administer a $1.1 million program focusing on job search and career counseling for food stamp recipients, according to Steve Devlin, BDP director.

The Supplemental Food and Nutrition Program (SNAP), an education and training effort, is core to the BDP’s Career Options Project (COP) and a good complement in terms of programming, says Devlin.

Mary Paulsell, BDP strategic initiative and communications director, will direct the new program. Joan Smith, COP director, will serve as associate director of BDP's SNAP program.


Centennial celebration material available soon

Mark your calendar! Starting Thursday, Jan. 23, a variety of materials that support the 100th anniversary of extension will be available at, reports Dennis Gagnon, director MU Extension communications and marketing. More information and materials will be added in the coming weeks, so check back from time to time. 


FRTI Winter Fire School set for Feb. 7-9 in Columbia

More than 1,300 firefighters, emergency medical personnel and other emergency responders from across Missouri and six other states will attend the 33rd annual Winter Fire School and Equipment Exposition, Feb. 7-9 in Columbia. The event is sponsored by MU Extension’s Fire and Rescue Training Institute.

A fire and EMS equipment exposition will run from noon to 9 p.m., Feb. 7, at the Holiday Inn Executive Center. Workshops and courses will be conducted Feb. 8-9 on the MU campus.

“The FRTI training team offers more than 100 classes mirroring the services that firefighters and other emergency personnel provide on a daily basis,” says Dave Hedrick, FRTI director.

Read more for additional details and registration information.


Websites offer free climate data

Farmers have a new set of free tools to help them make crop decisions.

Ray Massey, MU Extension agricultural economist, and Pat Guinan, climatologist for MU Extension Commercial Agriculture, are collaborating with participants across the nation to make information easily available.

The websites are important because access to historical climate data helps farm operations that depend on favorable temperatures and precipitation patterns, Massey says. He and Guinan recently presented the information at MU’s Crop Management Conference in Columbia. Find addresses and explore details on more than a dozen climate-oriented websites.


Writing is easy; research and rewrite take work

A communications tip from Duane Dailey

David Brooks recently wrote about writing in his column on the op-ed page of The New York Times. His observation: 80 percent of writing should be done by the time you sit down at the keyboard.

That time goes into research, gathering facts, making notes, sorting stacks of notes – and thinking. By the time you start typing, the idea and much of the structure should be in your mind. Not refined, but the rough idea should be there.

Then comes the writing – and rewriting. Avoid submitting first drafts.

Writing is easy. Research and rewrite take work. Communications doesn’t come easy. But once you get the hang of it, you see your words change people. That’s fun. Clear writing is worth the extra effort.

If at the end of your efforts it doesn’t make sense to you, start over, Brooks says.

Take a tip from one of the nation’s most widely read columnists. He also writes books. The system works for him. Make it work for you.


MU sustainability – Take the challenge at your county office

by Don Day, extension associate - energy

The University of Missouri has many things to be proud of and one effort I want to make you aware of is the MU Sustainability program. Many aspects of the program have application for MU Extension county offices. I would encourage you to do these things:

  • Share with your clients some of the things MU is doing as part of the sustainability program.
  • Accept the challenge to implement sustainable practices in your offices.
  • Document what you are doing for sustainability.
  • Send me ( information about what you have implemented so I can put together a report on our county offices’ sustainability efforts. 

Sustainability can have many meanings, so be creative in the ideas you generate. For those who accept the challenge and who report their sustainability efforts, prizes will be awarded for the most creative efforts. Look for details of this contest in a future issue of MU Extension Insider.

Take a look at MU’s sustainability website and see some of the latest activities highlighted there. Also review the Climate Action Plan, the Mizzou Dashboard and Mizzou Recycles. I think you will be impressed with what has been accomplished. Some of these programs are larger than what you can accomplish in county offices, but don’t be afraid to tackle this on a scale that fits your office. If we combine efforts from each of our counties, it will add up. 


Workshop to promote rural cultural heritage tourism

A program to help rural communities use tourism to promote economic development is set for Feb. 11 in Macon.

“Cultural Heritage Tourism and the Arts will help those interested in increasing tourism revenue by capitalizing on their cultural heritage and the arts in their communities,” says Valerie Tate, MU Extension program director in Linn County.

The program runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 11, at the Comfort Inn, 1821 N. Missouri St., Macon. The MU Extension Community Arts Project and other partners sponsor the event. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m.

Speakers include Stephen Foutes of the Missouri tourism division; Michael Gaines of the Hannibal Arts Council; and Kaye Malins, a volunteer at the Walt Disney Hometown Museum in Marceline.

Pre-registration deadline is Jan. 31. The fee is $25 per person, or $20 each for multiple persons from the same organization. For more information contact Jane Hunter at or 660-385-2173, or Larry Dickerson at or 573-445-9792.


Teaching firefighters to handle aviation disasters

Thick smoke billows out of a fuselage while flames lick and blacken the sides. A firefighter in full gear appears at the door carrying a body. But this is not a plane crash, and the body is a mannequin. It is a training simulation to help firefighters learn to deal with aviation disasters.

Fighting aircraft fires and rescuing survivors from a plane crash are very different from responding to a building fire, says Mark Lee, aircraft rescue firefighting specialist for MU Extension’s Fire and Rescue Training Institute.

“It’s a tightly enclosed space with fuel in the wings,” Lee said. “There are biohazards from the onboard lavatory, highly pressurized hydraulic fluid, and at the same time you’re trying to get injured passengers off the plane.”

Lee is program manager for MU FRTI’s Mobile Aircraft Firefighting Trainer. The MAFT can simulate fires in the flight deck, galley, cabin, cargo area, wheel assemblies, overhead compartment, wing engines, tail engine and along the exterior of the fuselage.

Read more about MU FRTI’s aviation disaster training and see a video on the activity

MU FRTI Firefighters

Mark Lee, left, is program manager for MU FRTI’s Mobile Aircraft Firefighting Trainer (MAFT).


Lawrence County 4-H livestock team wins national honors

The Lawrence County 4-H Livestock Judging team came home with honors from the 2014 Western National Round-up Livestock Contest Jan. 11 in Denver, Colo.

The team won the beef division by averaging 49 points on four classes and averaging 45.4 points on two sets of reasons in the species, according to Karla Deaver, UM Extension 4-H youth development specialist based in Lawrence County. The team placed fifth overall in a field of 24 teams.

“This team really put it all together in beef at the contest,” said Deaver. “All four team members were in the top 20 of the division, and three were in the top ten. They saw the classes really well, and did a great job with their oral reasons. Coach Jim Spencer, Jr., did a great job preparing this young team for national competition.”

Team members were Tori Armstrong, Hayden Fisher, Colton Spencer and Ty Whittaker.


Country music legend sends extension centennial greetings

Country music singer and former 4-H'er Reba McEntire wishes everyone across the country affiliated with Cooperative Extension a wonderful centennial celebration and happy prospects for another 100 years in this YouTube video.


Nominations sought for 2014 Ratchford Fellowship

Members of the university community are invited to submit nominations for the 2014 C. Brice Ratchford Memorial Fellowship Award. Nominations are due March 3.

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. The winner of the 2013 award was Jerry Valentine, professor emeritus of educational leadership and policy analysis, in recognition of his effective leadership in extending university resources to the public.

Award submission guidelines and a complete list of former winners, many from MU Extension, are available.


Upcoming events

An eight-week “Taking Care of You” program will be offered beginning March 6 for MU faculty and staff. The class will run weekly from noon to 1 p.m. on Thursdays in Room 226 of the Heinkel Building. Registration fee is $35. For more information, contact Boone County health education specialist Vera Massey at 573-445-9792 or


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

Feb. 20

2-3 p.m.

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 next four offerings:

  • Jan. 22, 12:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
  • Feb. 19, 12:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.


Other dates to remember

Feb. 18: University of Missouri Alumni Alliance Legislative Day, State Capitol, Jefferson City.

March 3: Ratchford award nominations due (Award submission guidelines).


Coming and going


Julie Middleton, MU Extension director of organizational development, last week received the Columbia Values Diversity Award from the city’s cultural affairs office. The award honors significant impact on the community in promoting appreciation for diversity and cultural understanding.

A research article entitled “Repeat customer success in extension” by HES specialists Melissa Bess, based in Camden County, and Sarah Traub, based in Pulaski County, was published in the December 2013 issue of the Journal of Extension. The researchers found a key to keeping participants involved is to schedule future programs to begin shortly after the current program ends to keep engagement and excitement levels high.

Karen Swope, BDP business and fiscal manager for the past 12 years, has accepted the position of business manager for the MU College of Engineering, effective Jan. 21.


Please welcome

Shawnda Hayes, nutrition program associate, Urban West Region

Leigh Lagrosa, nutrition program associate, Urban West Region

Brett Campbell Jr., 4-H youth development program associate, Urban West Region

Nathanial Cahill, agriculture business specialist, West Central Region



Karen Clancy, nutrition program associate, East Central Region

Mary Jo Williams, state 4-H youth specialist

James Wrather, professor, ag extension, Plant Sciences

Linda Syferd, extension program associate, HES



Former NW regional BDP specialist Darrell Meeker, 62, died Jan. 8 in St. Joseph. Services were held Jan. 11. He is survived by his wife, Kathy, and three grown children. In lieu of flowers the family requests donations be sent to the St. Paul Lutheran Church, 4715 Frederick Ave., St. Joseph, MO 64506.

Roy Crist died Jan. 9. Crist was the father-in-law of Alan Mundey, 4-H youth specialist and co-CPD in Bates County. Services were held Jan. 13 in Butler.

Mary Belle Turner died Jan. 20. She was the mother of Jo Turner, vice president of 4-H Foundation relations and former director of the 4-H youth development program. Services are pending. Condolences can be sent to Jo at 2202 Hillshire Ct., Columbia, MO  65203.

Bonnie Turner died Jan.16. She was the wife of Elbert Turner, former NW regional director. Services were held Jan. 20 in St. Joseph. For those wishing to make a contribution, the family requests they be made to Wyatt Park Christian Church, 2623 Mitchell Ave., St. Joseph, MO 64506.


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.