MELD VI participants (2013-14)
Map of headquarter locations of MELD VI participants (PDF)
Jeremy Elliott-Engel, Regional 4-H youth development specialist and Newton County program director, has worked for University of Missouri Extension since September 2009. He grew up in rural upstate New York, where he was a 4-H member for 7 years. Before moving to Missouri, he earned a Master’s in Education from Cornell University and a Bachelors in Agriculture Business Management from the State University of New York at Cobleskill. In between degrees, Elliott-Engel worked for the New York State Department of Agriculture in the Division of Agriculture Marketing and Promotion. While in college, he was 2007-2008 National Vice President for the National Postsecondary Agriculture Students (PAS) Organization. He currently lives in Goodman, Mo., where he enjoys spending time gardening and tending to his flock of chickens. As an undergrad Elliott-Engel lived abroad in Turkey and since has traveled to six continents. He has a personal and professional interest in international opportunities, even going to Kenya this Spring with Project Humanity and to represent MU Extension with stakeholders.
Elliott-Engel's change project proposal
"I want to develop a project that takes 4-H members from Missouri and possibly a partner state, and their parents to Kenya to work on a service project. This allows youth to learn from youth about culture differences, while helping leave the place they are visiting better. Projects might focus on well-digging, community gardens or school-building improvements. Also, implementing a pen-pal program to allow more youth here in Missouri to understand that we all have global connections."
Stephanie Femrite is a 4-H youth development specialist based in Audrain County. She graduated from the University of Missouri with a bachelor's in human development–youth services and a master's in youth development. Though she grew up through the 4-H program and is a second generation extension specialist, officially she has been with extension since 2007 with time spent in Missouri and Indiana. Femrite’s program efforts include the community club program, camp, 4-H LIFE program and school leadership development.
Femrite's change project proposal
"Though not new to Missouri, I would like to develop the Teens Teaching Biotechnology program in Audrain County. Currently the program is focused in St. Louis and Kansas City. The framework would include developing teen teachers to deliver lessons to middle school students on how agriculture and science are a part of their daily lives. Students would be invited to be teen teachers based on recommendations from teachers and school counselors of those that may be limited in opportunities and family support to develop their potential. Lessons could be presented during school or afterschool programs."
Shaun Murphy has been a youth specialist in the Northwest Region since 2008, and is headquartered in Livingston County. Being a product of 4-H and positive youth development, he enjoys the challenges and opportunities in helping prepare the next generation to be successful in the workforce, at home and in the community. Some of Murphy’s program emphasis areas include working with the 4-H LIFE program, camping programs, animal science program management, volunteer development and teen leader development. Most of all, Murphy enjoys creating environments where positive youth development occurs while families work together in family strengthening programming that involves the entire family. In his personal time, Murphy enjoys spending time with his wife and two children — both budding 4-H members, of course! Murphy is looking forward to the MELD experience and exploring new avenues that will expand his capacity for leadership and success in serving Missourians.
Murphy's change project proposal
"Something that I am passionate about is entrepreneurship. Small businesses are vital to Missouri’s economy, and I think that extension can help grow these businesses. A program that would accomplish Goals 2, 3 and 6 of the strategic plan is creation of an Entrepreneurship 'Incubator' program. I envision this program working primarily, but not exclusively with youth entrepreneurs. Extension colleagues, the Chamber of Commerce and Small Business Development would work to create a series of classes that would encourage existing businesses to work with youth and perhaps new 'startups' to help them get off their feet and determine avenues for success. Entrepreneurs would then be paired with 'mentor' businesses to partner with and offer assistance. Hopefully grant funds or sponsors would help make this a scalable, financially viable endeavor. Through this program, I envision a fostering of the entrepreneurial spirit and ultimately the creation of sustainable, local businesses."
Dr. Amy Patillo is a 4-H youth and family development specialist with the University of Missouri Extension in Howell County.
Prior to her work with extension, she served in the public school systems as a speech-language pathologist, special education and federal programs director and school administrator. She furthered her administrative career as a nursing home administrator and director of rehab programs for skilled care.
Patillo’s areas of emphasis include positive youth development programming in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, leadership development, community integration, beekeeping, mind mapping and group decision-making processes. She primarily works with collaborating partners, youth and community members to provide educational programs throughout Missouri.
Her degrees include a bachelor’s and master’s in communication sciences and disorders and master’s in educational administration from Missouri State University, as well as a specialist degree and educational doctorate degree in educational leadership and administration from St. Louis University.
Patillo's change project proposal
"Create a community integrated robotics program using the National 4-H and Missouri 4-H resource generation and fundraising marketing materials to develop a strategic partnership with corporate sponsors and local industries (Invensys Controls, Armstrong Wood Products, Air Evac EMS, Axio Technologies, DRS Technical Services, Systems & Electronics, Fabick CO [Caterpillar]). The program would develop partnerships with industries and youth using a 'grow your own' leadership initiative to develop and support youth leaving high school and entering the workforce. Rotary, Southern Ozark Alliance for Rural Development and other civic organizations will provide networking and financial support for the program."
Patrick Byers is regional horticulture specialist with the Greene County Extension Center. His educational background includes an associate degree in commercial horticulture from the University of Nebraska, a bachelor’s degree in horticulture from the University of Missouri, and a master’s degree, also in horticulture, from the University of Arkansas. Job experience includes three years at the University of Arkansas Fruit Substation. More recently he served for 18 years as fruit grower adviser at Missouri State University’s State Fruit Experiment Station in Mountain Grove, where his responsibilities included outreach education to Missouri’s commercial fruit industry, as well as research interests in alternative fruit crops. His current position of regional horticulture specialist with MU Extension includes outreach programming for commercial and home horticulture interests in the 17-county southwest Missouri region. Byers has an interest in international agricultural issues, and has made trips to Uzbekistan, China, Azerbaijan, Moldova and Lebanon to consult with fruit producers and scientists. Byers and his wife Michele have 4 children and live on a farm near Fordland.
Byers' change project proposal
"I plan to develop a comprehensive educational program for home fruit producers. Present resources are fragmentary and surveys indicate a strong interest in the subject. This project would include curriculum — science-based presentations and written resources for a 12-month through-the-year program. All fruit crops adapted to Missouri would be included and experiential learning exercises would be emphasized. The project would be multidisciplinary with an emphasis on not only horticulture but nutrition, culinary uses, and historical aspects of fruit. Revenue generation would be built into the project and collaboration among extension specialists and others with subject matter expertise would be sought."
Jim Crawford is a natural resource engineering specialist with the University of Missouri Extension. Based in Rock Port, he serves the northwest 19 counties with additional state wide responsibilities as the needs arise. His area of expertise include energy conservation, renewable energy, water quality, no-till farming techniques, biofuel crop production, grain storage and handling, onsite septic waste water treatment and building structures. Crawford currently serves on the State Extension Energy Team, the Atchison County Soil and Water Conservation District, the President-elect for the Missouri Agricultural Extension Professionals, and is a member of the American Society for Agricultural and Biological Engineers. Crawford also serves as the superintendent of the MU Graves-Chapple Research Center near Corning, Mo.
Crawford's change project proposal
"In my experience, there is a great deal of apathy towards energy conservation. People complain about the high costs of energy and how much they use but seem unwilling to educate themselves regarding some of the simple steps they can do to reduce their energy consumption. A reduction in energy consumption benefits the entire country as it will reduce the demand on energy production. I would like to explore new means of educating the citizens on the benefits of energy conservation and the simple steps they can take to reduce their own energy consumption."
Craig Payne received his DVM degree from the University of Missouri-College of Veterinary Medicine in 1993. Upon graduation he practiced at the Animal Medical Center in Marshfield, Mo., for one year before moving to Sedalia, Mo., where he became a partner at the Sedalia Veterinary Center. He practiced in Sedalia until 2005 at which time he and his wife moved to Kingsville, Tex., where he pursued an MS degree in Agribusiness from the King Ranch Institute for Ranch Management at Texas A&M – Kingsville. After completing his MS degree in 2007, Payne accepted a position as an extension veterinarian for the University of Missouri and is currently the Director of the Department of Veterinary Extension and Continuing Education at the MU-College of Veterinary Medicine.
Payne's change project proposal
"I think it's apparent from my previous answer that I believe collaborative efforts are extremely important. One area where collaboration can be improved is between continuing education and what was once called "cooperative extension" — I represent both. I propose my change project revolve around establishing collaborative efforts between the two groups. I feel I have a good grasp of their differences so my plan would be to define what the two groups have in common, how the two groups complement each other, and then facilitate communication/collaboration. This would impact several of the strategic plan goals."
Gene Stevens, is an extension professor at the University of Missouri-Delta Research Center in Portageville. He helps farmers with soil fertility and water management problems. Gene is a crop production specialist on the MU Commercial Agriculture Crops Team and conducts research and extension programs to improve agronomic practices for cotton, rice, corn, soybean, and grain sorghum in the upper Mississippi River Delta region. He earned his PhD at Mississippi State University and MS at University of Tennessee at Knoxville. He grew up on a family dairy farm at Oakland, Tenn.
Stevens' change project proposal
"My project will be to educate farmers on practices to promote soil health. Soil microbes need surface organic matter. But, many fields do not have cover crops in the winter and the same summer crops are grown year after year. I was recently awarded a grant to monitor 14 crop fields each month. We are calibrating a new soil active carbon test and collecting data for soil respiration (CO2), gravimetric soil moisture, bulk density, penetrometer resistance, leaf area index, and NDVI crop stress. Winter cover and crop rotation make a big difference. I even found earthworms in a cotton field."
Valerie Tate serves as an agronomy specialist for MU Extension in northeast Missouri covering Linn, Sullivan, Putnam, Schuyler and Adair counties. She began work for MU Extension in January 2013. Prior to joining MU Extension she worked as a research specialist for 12 years at the Forage Systems Research Center, one of the University of Missouri’s Agriculture Experiment Stations located near Linneus. Other positions in her 22-year career with the University of Missouri have included watershed coordinator with the Mark Twain Water Quality Initiative, research associate at the Forage Systems Research Center and agronomy/water quality specialist for MU Extension. She and her husband Larry live on their family farm in Linn County with their two children, Rick and Raysha.
Tate's change project proposal
"The internet is becoming more and more frequently the source people use for acquiring answers for their questions. In order to remain a relevant, reliable and responsive source of educational strategies for farmers, we must provide education in that format. I would like to develop a blog for agronomic information in Northeast Missouri, with the possibility of including livestock and agriculture economics information as well."
Clint Dougherty, a native of northwest Missouri, currently serves as a business development procurement specialist in the Northwest Region. He works closely with small businesses in the region to assist them with selling products and services to government agencies at the federal, state and local level.
An alumnus of Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, Mo., Dougherty received his bachelor’s degree in management. He then went on to run a successful Barnes and Noble College Bookstore at Rockhurst University in Kansas City. Following his passion for higher education, Dougherty became the first program manager for the entrepreneurship program at Metropolitan Community College, also in Kansas City. In that role, Dougherty successfully implemented district wide student-focused programs geared toward entrepreneurship education. During his time at Metropolitan Community College, Dougherty received his master’s degree in organizational management through Chadron State College in Nebraska.
In his third year with the Procurement Technical Assistance Program (PTAC) with MU Extension, Dougherty has assisted more than 100 small businesses with the procurement processes for government agencies. Dougherty’s clients have reported more than $15 million in contract awards.
An avid outdoorsman, Dougherty enjoys hunting and fishing. He currently resides with his wife and two children at their home in Smithville.
Dougherty's change project proposal
"My proposed change project would be related to Goal 7 of the strategic plan and also Goal 5. As a diverse organization, we don’t always know the extent of the services provided by our fellow specialists. The project revolves around educating ourselves internally of the services that exist and how those services help our communities. When specialists have a better understanding of the wide variety of services available through Extension, we can all be better marketing tools for extension services. We don’t all need to be experts in 4-H, Agriculture, HES, etc., but we should all be experts in extension."
Letititia 'Tish' Johnson
Letitia Johnson is a regional community development specialist for University of Missouri Extension, headquartered in the historic community of Ste. Genevieve and serving several rural communities south of St. Louis. She received her bachelor’s degree from Indiana University and her master's degree in social and economic development from Washington University. Johnson has over twenty years’ experience facilitating effective community responses to local issues in both urban and rural locales. Areas of expertise include regional food systems, agritourism and heritage tourism, nonprofit management, civic education, community emergency management and entrepreneurship development. Her work has included organizing the Mississippi River Hills Association, which seeks to develop, link and market local products in a six-county rural region; guiding a grassroots effort that built an innovative community recreation center; and serving on the leadership teams for international exchange programs with colleagues in Thailand, Northern Ireland and South Africa.
Johnson's change project proposal
"I propose to create a statewide network of regional initiatives that focus on local food culture and heritage. Extension has worked with several regional initiatives that support and promote aspects of food culture — healthy eating, supporting local food businesses, promoting local cultural assets – for the purposes of increasing revenue and economic resiliency within the region. However, three are no connections between regions. I envision a network of regions sharing information and partnering together on issues that benefit the state as a whole. Communities have clearly demonstrated a desire and willingness; they’re looking to us to pull it all together."
Stuart-Simmons began her career as a clothing specialist in Harrison County from 1980 to 1984. For two years she taught at Fontbonne College in St. Louis, returning to extension in 1986. From 1991 to 2001, Stuart-Simmons served as a 4-H youth specialist, assuming her current position as community development specialist in 2001. As a community development specialist, she conducts leadership training and regularly consults with non-profit organizations on organizational and management issues. She has been instrumental in the development of non-profit corporations in the West Central Region. She has a variety of experiences working in leadership development, having implemented EXCEL leadership programs, Step Up to Leadership and Youth EXCEL programs among others. Stuart-Simmons is a trained moderator for National Issues Forums and has moderated a number of forums for groups throughout western and central Missouri on topics related to land use, racial and ethnic tensions, and immigration.
Stuart-Simmons' change project proposal
"My change project relates to Goal 6. I feel that the future of extension depends upon our ability to recruit and retain faculty members who have the skills, attitudes and support necessary to be successful employees. I would like to work with extension Human Resources to identify specific attributes that make for a successful Extension employee, to determine ways to evaluate the possession of those attributes during the interview process, and to enhance the current orientation process in order to provide the best possible experience for newly hired faculty."
Crystal Weber grew up on a cattle farm in Crawford County, Missouri and graduated from the University of Missouri with a bachelor's in agriculture and a master's in public administration. She participated in study abroad programs in the Czech Republic, Thailand and France. She is currently a community development specialist for the University of Missouri Extension in Clay County-Urban West and is a member of Extension’s Metropolitan Food Systems state team and Scaling Up Agriculture team. Weber and her husband, Steven Cowen, reside in Kansas City (Clay County) with their daughters, Mary Gabrielle and Caroline.
Weber's change project proposal
"It is struggle to be seen or heard within the white noise of an urban community, particularly a community where there is a University of Missouri system campus that extension is not integrated into. My change project would focus on establishing increased interaction between myself and my colleagues within our colleagues located on the UMKC campus. The efforts for integrating our off campus faculty, entrenched in various communities throughout Kansas City should be deliberate and a significant effort put forth from extension administration. County-based faculty should have extensive opportunity to interact with those whose research-based information is being disseminated at a local level."
Jewel Coffman began her career at the University of Missouri in 1989 as a program coordinator for Student Life and Residential Life. Fall of 1995, Coffman started with the MU Conference Office, first as a conference coordinator and later as assistant director. Currently she serves as Interim Director. Professional activities include serving as secretary and committee chair for the University Professional and Continuing Education Association, Central Region. Coffman has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota and a master’s degree in higher and adult education from MU.
Coffman's change project proposal
"I am interested in a project related to Goal 6 and Goal 7 [of the strategic plan]: developing a unit staff orientation program, which supports the vision of One MU Extension. My goal is to explore this topic with the other colleagues participating in MELD to discuss their experiences and any programs which may already exist. Based on this discovery process, I would then determine the best use of my time and resources in developing a model to implement within my unit.
"I feel while we have maintained a successful workforce, we have not had the opportunity to develop an orientation model to introduce our CE staff to the mission and scope MU Extension as a whole. Often staff feels disconnected or unclear on how unit mission directly connects to that of MU Extension goals and priorities. We tend to focus on our own internal priorities and challenges and lose sight of how our individual unit relates to all of what MU Extension offers. We see ourselves as contained to only service delivery.
"With high expectations for staff to work collaboratively across MU Extension and the campus, I don’t feel we provide an effective process for unit staff to learn about the scope of MU Extension and outreach to the state of Missouri. I would like to explore an orientation model that includes information gathering from a variety of MU Extension departments/units; incorporate leadership to participate in staff meetings as appropriate to discussion on topics/trends and also encourage unit staff to engage in MU Extension leadership opportunities and activities on a more frequent basis."
Megan Martin has been an employee of University of Missouri for 30 years. She began work at the UM System level, has worked in the Division of Student Affairs, was a training coordinator for MU Campus Human Resource Services for six years, and has worked for MU Extension Human Resources as Training/Development Coordinator for the past seven years. She has a bachelor's in recreation programming, and master level studies in educational psychology. She is a member of the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) and has served on its board in various capacities. Her hobbies are attending MU Tiger football games and St. Louis Cardinal games with friends and family, hanging out at Lake Ozark with friends and family, traveling with friends and family, reading, writing, sewing, walking and biking, and playing with her two-year-old granddaughter.
Martin's change project
My change project would include work on improving employee orientation. I am co-chair for the New Employee Orientation sub-committee for Goal 6 [of the strategic plan]. A proposal was made to bring all new employees to the MU campus so that they can feel the connectedness and the pride, view and tour applicable programs and offices, and meet face to face the people with whom they will be working. This is a great idea, but the proposal is cost prohibitive. With that in mind, virtual formats will need to be used to obtain the connectedness and pride. Steps would include:
• Assessment to learn what has gone well during previous orientations, what are the gaps, and how can we improve delivery of this information
• Virtual tours including videos of employees, different county offices, different campus offices
• Highlighting Extension history and the land grant mission
• Highlighting how MU and its history plays a part in what Extension does
The second phase of my change project would look at training needs beyond orientation. New employees often struggle with processes and procedures, such as time sheets, travel and expenses, and the reporting system; and new supervisors need more training on personnel issues. Steps would include:
• Gathering a planning team
• Assessment to learn information and service gaps
• Virtual training tours of procedures
• Training series through Lync, Adobe Connect or other applicable format
Maude Harris has been a resident of Sikeston since 1985. She received a bachelor's degree in food and nutrition from Southeast Missouri State University in August 1985. Ten years later, she received a master's degree in home economics with a food and nutrition emphasis from Southeast Missouri State University in August 1995. In December of 2008, she received her doctoral degree in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis.
Harris has been employed by the Scott County Extension Center since 1996 as a nutrition and health education specialist. Harris resides in Sikeston, Mo., with her husband, Michael, and has three children, Alexia, Sloane and Kellar. She also has a five-year-old grandson, who keeps her busy with his inquisitive mind and inspiration to live life to the fullest.
Harris' change project proposal
"I would like to partner with the local YMCA on a program that promotes healthy eating and exercise. This class would be face to face meetings with an option as an online course the participants would log in each week for information. This class would help participants create their own plans for healthier eating and increased exercise. I think a partnership with the local YMCA would be beneficial because they have an existing audience, facility, and resource staff to assist with teaching the class."
Nellie Lamers is a family financial education specialist, headquartered in Forsyth (Taney County). Lamers was the interim coordinator/coordinator at Tri-Lakes TCRC, headquartered in Reeds Spring (Stone County)for two years and the information technologist at Tri-Lakes TCRC for 10 years prior to her family financial education specialist position. Lamers has worked for University of Missouri Extension for over 14 years. Lamers holds a bachelor of science in business with a major in marketing and a master of education with an emphasis in information science and learning technologies, both from the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Lamers' change project proposal
"I have talked with four specialists (financial and nutrition) about creating this class on Moodle. The class will include 10-16 sessions. Participants will pay to take the class online and/or attendees at our classes may get some sessions free. There will be a charge for the whole class and for individual sessions, the more sessions a client takes the lower the cost per session. The class will include times for discussion online with one of the specialists- we will rotate. We will also rotate checking for and answering ongoing questions."
Shatomi Luster is a financial education specialist with the University of Missouri Extension. She uses university research and science-based knowledge that engages the community, individuals and families alike to understand change, solve problems and make informed decisions. Luster focuses on various aspects of financial education that include economic development, rapid response for dislocated workers, payday lending, small dollar loans, tax assistance, renting and housing initiatives. Luster has traveled abroad on a vocational group study exchange to Romania. This exchange provided an understanding that emphasized the importance of cultural awareness, educational acumen and socioeconomic acuteness.
Luster has over 10 years of experience in the private and non-profit sector. With a parallel passion for youth, Luster serves on the executive board of EXCEL (Expanding College for Exceptional Learners) and co-founded GIRL Inc. (Gifted Intelligent Respectable Ladies). A graduate from Ottawa University, she received her undergraduate and graduate degrees in business administration. She is currently pursuing her doctorate at the University of Missouri.
Luster's change project proposal
"The change project of focus is Goal 1 [of the strategic plan]: Enhance MU Extension’s integration with research to ensure reliable and trusted educational solutions. This is done through true integration with the MU campus and MU Extension. The University of Missouri has excellent resources and outcomes as it relates to research and innovation. Mu Extension is well connected with the community, legislators and the private and non-profit sectors. MU Extension can also provide input on practical ways to implement various research and innovative initiatives. With this combined knowledge it makes for a fluid, inclusive and robust entity."
Lynda Zimmerman is a nutrition and health education specialist and associate extension professional. Headquartered in Cole County, Lynda has helped adults and youth in the East Central Region lead healthier lives for more than 20 years. Her expertise is in diabetes self-management, strength training for older adults, mindfulness stress reduction and home food preservation. Lynda has co-authored curriculum for MU Extension’s named program Eat Well Be Well with Diabetes, among others. Lynda currently serves as president-elect of UMEA and chair of Epsilon Sigma Phi Recognition and Awards Committee, and is a member of the statewide Health Insurance Education Initiative Team and Program Integration Team. She is actively involved with the Central Missouri Ways to Enhance Children’s Activity and Nutrition (CeMoWeCan) coalition. Lynda is a registered dietitian and member of the Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior. She earned a master’s degree in human nutrition from Colorado State University and a bachelor’s degree in dietetics from Michigan State University.
Zimmerman's change project proposal
"I am member of the MU Extension Nutrition and Health Technology (NHT) Team, which is exploring the use of technology in our program area. Currently, most regional specialists are not using much technology. A change project relating to MU Strategic Plan Goal 3 might be to help regional specialists become more comfortable with the increase in their use of technology by identifying potential barriers (and solutions), providing examples of successful technology applications, or other strategies. If accepted into MELD VI, I would develop a more specific plan after learning more about the change projects and discussing with the NHT Team."
Andrew Zumwalt has a bachelor's in business administration with an emphasis in economics, a bachelor's in consumer and family economics, and a master's in consumer and family economics. Zumwalt has been instrumental in founding and growing the Missouri Taxpayer Education Initiative, a program that uses "Taxpayer Assistance as a Gateway to Financial Education." Over the past 10 years, more than 20,000 returns have been prepared at MoTax sites and more than $20 million has been refunded; a large portion of these returns have been prepared by students in the class Zumwalt teaches, Personal Financial Planning 4188: Community Agencies and Volunteerism. Zumwalt serves as campus support for the state network of family financial education specialists.
Zumwalt's change project proposal
"I envy my colleagues in agriculture when it comes to client communication. People have no trouble expressing their anger or dismay online about the aphids in their backyard. People are not as public when they miss a mortgage payment, lose a job or encounter other financial difficulties. Therefore, it can be hard to provide targeted information. I think family financial educators need to take a different tack than what is common with extension social media nationwide: just put research-based information out there! I would like to discern a better path to providing information online."