MU Extension welcomes new members at annual banquet

Friday, February 17, 2017
One of Vernon County's newest Century Farms is owned by Larry F. and Mary Fowler. From left: Eddie Fowler, Helen Leininger, Mary Fowler, Larry Fowler, and Kerry Foster. Gabriel Franklin/Daily Mail

The Vernon County University of Missouri Extension Council celebrated two new Century Farm families and welcomed newly elected members and swore in new officers at a Monday evening's meeting at the Neal Senior Center.

"We had two Century Farm families this year," county program director Pat Miller said.

The Lois Herbst family was unable to attend Monday evening, but the Larry F. and Mary Fowler family was present and welcomed to the front of the room by Miller.

"The Century Farm honors a family that has had a farm of at least 40 acres that must be contributing to the economic benefit of the family and have been in the family for over 100 years." Miller said. Documentation must be provided.

"Congratulations to Larry Fowler," Miller said.

In recognition of the honor, Miller presented Fowler a metal sign to be displayed at the farm.

"First of all, I want to thank the Extension Council and Farm Bureau for being the sponsors of this program and also I want to say that yes, my name and my wife's name are on the plaque, yes that is where we live, we do own it now, but there has been a lot of water under the bridge between Oct. 1916 and tonight," Fowler said. "I accepted this for my brother, my sister, and our parents."

Fowler said his father was six when the family bought the farm in 1916.

"He did this during the depression, during the Dust Bowl, and I think, when we think back on that, they were some tough people," Fowler said speaking of his father's accomplishments.

"He managed well, he was a visionary," Fowler said.

Fowler said his father participated in the Balance Farming programs and was one of the first to help with the Vernon County Youth Fair.

"Where we live, I've been a part of that for a little over 75 years myself. Time goes fast." Fowler said. "This particular place, were proud of what our folks did, and then for my brothers and myself, spent the best part of fifty years in a partnership. That was headquarters. Just in all fairness and to my folks, it just wasn't a farm, it was a home."

In other business Monday evening, Miller introduced new council members including Habana Bower, Danni Fine, Joelle Mason, Ginger Nance, Cherie Clark, and Lynn Meinershagen. Jennifer Byers was re-elected for a second term. Vernon County clerk Mike Beuhler was present to swear in the new members.

The new elected members fill several seats that were open due to resignations and the retirement of Leslie Carroll-Bartlett and Frank Wilson who has reached their term limits.

Following the swearing-in of new members, officers were elected for the year including Tom Harold, chairperson; Brandon Claspill, vice-chair; Carrie Poe, treasurer; and Janet Wray, secretary.

Several guests were present including Northern Commissioner Cindy Thompson, and Nevada's mayor Brian Leonard. Also in attendance was the new Century Farm families of Larry and Mary Fowler.

Extension staff present were Pat Miller, county program director; Judi Swank, office support staff; and Hazel Wilson, office support staff.

Prior to the installation of new members and the election of officers, Miller played a video message from University of Missouri Vice-Chancellor for Extension and Engagement, Marshall Stewart, in which he outlined his vision for the future. This video can be found online at

"He's not afraid to shake things up," Miller said. "I'm really excited to see what comes to Extension with his leadership here in the future."

Miller said one of the projects is called Community Conversations, one of which will take place in Nevada on March 2, at the Healthy Nevada Innovation Center from 9-11 a.m.

"Another thing that we have in Extension is that the faculty and staff for each county select someone for Leader's Honor Roll." Miller said, "Tonight we have Tommy and Kathy Wait."

Both Tommy and Kathy Wait are former council members and 4H leaders. Kathy Wait is a second-generation 4H member. Tommy Wait has also served on the Fair Board and Rodeo Board.

"They've been long time supporters of the Extension and 4H and the Fair and we would like to honor you," Miller said.

Additionally, Miller handed out copies of the annual Extension report from Stewart.

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