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Extension begins with you

Extension staffing and funding seem to always be on the chopping block. Most folks we work with tell us how much they appreciate our help and can't imagine why anyone would want to cut such a useful program. Unfortunately, those same people generally only tell us they appreciate our efforts. They don't tell those who really count — the legislators and officials who decide funding for higher education in Missouri.

Since 90 percent of our operating budget is in the form of people, even small funding cuts mean we have to reduce faculty and staff. Most people don’t realize we are no longer tax-supported, only tax-assisted.

We are occasionally chastised by our congressmen for not promoting ourselves more and for being one of this country's "best-kept secrets." Our response is that it does little good to market ourselves more when our limited resources cannot adequately serve the clientele we already have. We believe you are much more concerned about us helping you resolve problems with health care, nutrition, youth at risk, environmental, regulatory and rural development issues than you are about us spending your tax money promoting ourselves.

That's where you come in. It appears self-serving when we tell legislators to fund extension just because our clients say so. You have to tell them! Grassroots lobbying is a critical key in the legislative process. Below is a ranked list of the top 10 types of communications that legislators pay attention to. Yes, your letters and phone calls do count.

  1. Spontaneous letters (hand-written or typed) from constituents
  2. Telephone calls from constituents
  3. Congressional Research Service
  4. Articles in major daily newspapers
  5. Editorials in major daily newspapers
  6. Visits from constituents
  7. Articles from constituents
  8. Congressional Record
  9. Editorials in district daily newspapers
  10. Government publications