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CAFNR family provides life-long connections


Linda Geist
University of Missouri Extension
Phone: 573-882-9185

Photo available for this release:

CAFNR Alumni President Tony Francis leads a true farm family. The entire family is involved in the sheep and cattle operation,in addition to being active in FFA and 4-H. Members of the family are. from left, Barb, Brant, Aly, Tony and Britton.

Credit: Linda Geist, MU Cooperative Media Group

Published: Monday, March 11, 2013

PARIS, Mo. – When Britton Francis leaves home this fall for the University of Missouri’s College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (CAFNR), his dad knows that he will be in good hands.

His father, CAFNR Ag Alumni Association President Tony Francis, said the family-like atmosphere at CAFNR provided him with life-long friendships and connections. He knows it will be the same for his oldest son. “Family is family. You can’t overlook the value of a hometown farm boy going to CAFNR and knowing that he is going to be looked after by family,” Francis says.

He remembers his first rural sociology class taught by Joel Harman at MU. “Some of the people who sat in the same row with me are still my friends today,” he said.  “That’s the one thing that Jesse Hall doesn’t bill for. Those connections are your network and friends for years to come.”

Like many incoming CAFNR freshmen, Francis hailed from a small town with deep agricultural roots. The son of a third-generation Monroe County farmer, he had rarely been to the MU campus, but he grew up knowing that he would attend the land-grant university. He knew other young people who were studying agriculture at Mizzou through his service as Paris FFA chapter president and area treasurer, and they helped welcome him into the CAFNR fold when he arrived on campus.

After Francis graduated in 1989 with a degree in animal sciences, he sold animal pharmaceuticals in southern Iowa and worked for Farm Credit Services in St. Louis before returning to Monroe County, where his father worked construction and his mother was a longtime county courthouse employee.

He has served as Monroe County executive director of Farm Service Agency since 1991. Although his memberships and accomplishments would fill a bushel basket, none make him prouder than his work to help reinstitute a vocational agriculture program at the Paris High School. The program had been dormant for about a decade when Francis and community leaders led a fundraising campaign to revive it.

Although total enrollment at the high school is only 186, there are about 100 students involved in FFA, and a second teacher has been hired to serve the growing number of students, which include his sons, Britton and Brant. Francis and his wife, Barb, a graduate of MU’s College of Human Environmental Sciences, also have a 12-year-old daughter, Aly, who is a member of the Monroe County Eager Beavers 4-H Club.

The whole family is involved in the farm operation, which includes 150 ewes and 70 cows. The boys play basketball and baseball and the family enjoys attending Mizzou sporting events. Summers center around gardening, 4-H and FFA livestock shows and the Missouri State Fair. The family vehicles rarely leave home without a livestock trailer attached.

Francis has led the Ag Alumni Association as president for the past year. His term ends March 6. The 2,800-member alumni group promotes the college by recruiting and mentoring students, provides social networking and continued educational opportunities, and funds a student scholarship program that gives $2,000 annually to 25 CAFNR students.


CAFNR is the University of Missouri’s College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources – a collection of academic programs merging personalized teaching and advising, advanced research with global reach and extension programs with a sustained impact on Missouri’s economy. Founded in 1870, CAFNR is a research and educational leader ensuring sustainability for generations to follow. CAFNR is changing agriculture, food and natural resources – the core components of society that impact what people live, eat and how they will face tomorrow.