Using science-learned knowledge, University of Missouri Extension engages people to understand change, solve problems and make informed decisions. This is a statement on the University of Missouri Web site.
Another statement says that University of Missouri Extension is a partnership of the University of Missouri Campuses, Lincoln University, the people of Missouri through county extension councils and the Cooperative State Research of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Extension has contributed a great deal to society and has many accomplishments since it was started in the early years of the last century. It continues to have high achievements and accomplishments, even with reduced staff in recent years due to inadequate funding.
My career was as an employee of extension and as result I have many fond memories. I will admit that I am prejudice about the extension program. Many families have felt that extension contributed much to their quality of life. Still, there are many others who are not aware of the service that is provided.
There have been many changes in extension since I started as an assistant county agent in the 1950s. During those years there have also been many changes in society and agriculture. There has been a development of technology that has had a major impact. The changes in extension have included many changes in the organization and many differences in the programs that are offered and the methods of delivery.
The 2006 Vernon County Report gives a brief summary of the accomplishments for the past year.
The following information is lifted from parts of the report.
The past year University of Missouri Extension had more than 25,000 educational contacts with the citizens of Vernon County. Citizens benefited from one-on-one assistance, seminars, services and research-based publications. They furthered their formal education through degrees and continuing education.
More than 4,500 citizens received information via phone, internet, office visits, farm visits or seminar participation. The Vernon County Center serves as a resource for home and landowners for soil tests, plant disease I.D., plant and insect identification, water analysis, rental agreements and forage testing. On going consultations are provided to producers covering the primary topics of crops, forage selection, pasture weed control and management and livestock health and nutrition.
University of Missouri Extension staff assisted a group of investors to establish the largest grass based dairy in North America. University of Missouri Extension staff and Wayne Prewitt, agriculture business specialist, worked closely with the group to establish a 3,000 cow dairy in the northeast portion of the county. A new 500 cow grass-based dairy is located south of Nevada.
Prairie Pride is a new generation cooperative that is constructing a soy crush and soy diesel plant west of Nevada near the community of Deerfield. University of Missouri staff acts as advisors to the board of directors as this project moves forward.
Seventeen Vernon County employees received advanced training in using Excel. Leslie, technology specialists, and Wayne Prewitt, agriculture business specialists, taught the 6 hour course. Several employees are using Excel in their daily work for the county.
There were many other education programs and accomplishments including youth and 4-H listed in the annual report. All of the programs listed in the report had an impact of the people of Vernon County, enhancing the quality of living for the entire community.
An important group in Vernon County and the sponsoring group for University of Missouri Extension in the county is the Vernon County Extension Council. This organization was set up by legislation. When I first started extension the sponsor in the counties was either Farm Bureau or the Missouri Farmers Association.
The council, comprised of elected and appointed citizens, is a full partner with Missouri's land-grant universities to deliver research-based information that helps people solve real-world problems and take advantage of opportunities. Council members work with specialists to provide the county educational program, manage finances of local extension operations and provide personnel to carry out extension activities.
At the present time, nominations are being accepted for the election to the council. Those elected serve for two years and can serve only two terms before going off of the council for at least one year. It is a good experience to serve on the council and it is an important position. It would be good if several would apply for the nomination and the voters would have several to choose from.
The staff and the Extension Council are hosting a Holiday Open House this Friday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Food and refreshments will be served -- this is a good reason to be there. The monthly chamber of commerce coffee will be held at the open house from 8 to 9 a.m.
Michael Ouart, vice provost and director of extension, is expected to be among those attending the open house during the day. If you are not familiar with the University of Missouri, this is an opportunity to stop by and meet the staff and learn about what is offered. Others will want to stop by to say hi and Merry Christmas to the staff.