University of Missouri Extension realigned its administrative structure to focus on high-priority local programs, adjust to uncertain public funding, generate diverse revenue streams and remain responsive to changes in demands for educational programs and services.
“Changes in the economic development needs of Missouri, population demographics, societal changes and funding constraints call for new models for allocating funds and staffing,” said Michael Ouart, vice provost and director. “MU Extension’s previous staffing plan of 2007 was based on economic and social factors that are now outdated.”
On January 1, 2013, MU Extension moved to a total resource model for regional programs. Rather than budgeting for a specific number of positions, extension regions are allocated funds to carry out the highest-priority programs for the area. Priorities are driven by local need and demand as well as campus-based analysis of the greatest impact items coming from research. The total resource model is similar to how colleges are funded for extension work on the MU campus and includes general operating allocation from state and federal governments, contracts, grants, endowments and fees generated from programs.
“The focus will be on program impact, not the position,” said Ouart. “Decisions about where to invest in positions will be based on citizens’ greatest opportunities and needs and MU Extension’s available resources to fill those needs.”
Regional directors, in collaboration with MU Extension’s program directors and with regional and county extension councils, will determine the mix and location of priority programmatic positions.
“Transitioning from eight to seven regions means that we’re becoming more administratively lean,” said Mary Leuci, CAFNR assistant dean and MU Extension program director for community development. “The transition provides opportunities for us to create programs and partnerships and be more responsive to meet urban needs,” she said.
The realignment includes six rural regions and one urban region, which consists of the six counties surrounding St. Louis and Kansas City and the City of St. Louis.
One Extension initiative in Kansas City and St. Louis is improving the metropolitan food system. Extension personnel use an interdisciplinary approach to look at access to food, nutrition, policy issues, facilitate community leadership, grow markets, support value-added food businesses, help farmers improve their business skills and distribution networks and encourage youth involvement. This work cuts across all programmatic areas.
In the Old North neighborhood in St. Louis, MU Extension partnered with CAFNR, the University of Missouri-St. Louis and a neighborhood restoration organization to develop a farmers market, food cooperative and a community garden and nutrition courses to improve access to affordable and nutritious food. That neighborhood has bucked population trends of the surrounding areas and is gaining population, due in part to the success of the revitalization effort.
Funding and budgeting under the new model will be driven not only by need but by measuring impacts, such as family and business income, community well-being, and skill development, Leuci said.
Part of staying nimble in delivering services means evaluating how to best employ rapidly changing technology. “How we deliver programs and take best advantage of our resources while maintaining that key asset of doing things face-to-face is critical,” Leuci said.
MU Extension will continue its nearly 100-year history of providing locally responsive programs that create healthy families and communities, support agricultural and business development and empower citizens to drive the overall economic well-being of the state.
Five new regional directors were appointed in January, joining Karma Metzgar, Northwest regional director, and Janet Kline, Southeast regional director.
Meet the new directors:
Southwest Regional Director, Jay Chism
Chism joined MU Extension in 2004 as an agronomy specialist for Polk and Barton counties. For the past three years, he also served as interim director for the Southwest Region.
Additional leadership experience with MU Extension includes serving as a county program director, County Program Director Revitalization Committee, Fees Committee, Council Leadership Development, National Extension Leadership Development, and Agriculture Leadership of Tomorrow. Prior to joining MU Extension, Chism owned a farm/greenhouse business.
Chism received a bachelor’s degree in horticulture from Missouri State University and a master’s degree in horticulture from the University of Missouri.
Northeast Regional Director, Shelley Bush-Rowe
Bush-Rowe has served MU Extension as a regional community development specialist for 20 years. As such, she worked with citizens to coordinate effective responses to local issues that impact lives.
Additional MU Extension leadership experiences include serving as a county program director, Self-Directed Teams co-leader, Missouri Extension Leadership Development, Kellogg Leadership Development and the Chancellor’s Emerging Leaders Program.
Bush-Rowe received a bachelor’s degree in political science from Drury University, a master’s degree in regional and community planning from Kansas State University, and a master’s degree in adult education from the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
East Central Regional Director, Mark Stewart
Stewart has served MU Extension as a livestock specialist for more than 30 years. His program efforts focused on production and management, improved forage utilization, business planning for alternative enterprises, water quality and food safety. For the past three years, he also served as interim director of the Central Missouri Region.
Additional MU Extension leadership experience includes serving as a county program director, New Regional Faculty Cohort coordinator, Annual Program Review co-coordinator, Water Quality Focus Team, Program Integration Development Team, Missouri Extension Leadership Development, National Extension Leadership Development, and National Association of County Ag Agents Board of Directors.
Stewart received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in animal sciences and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Missouri.
West Central Regional Director, Wayne Prewitt
Prewitt joined MU Extension in 1985 and has served as a regional agriculture specialist in the areas of farm management and agricultural business. Since 2010, he has served as interim director for the West Central Region.
Additional leadership experiences include serving as a county program director, Metropolitan Foods Team co-leader, County Program Director Revitalization Committee, Nevada Regional Medical Center Board of Trustees, Missouri Association of Extension Professionals president, Missouri Extension Leadership Development, and National Extension Leadership Development.
Prewitt received a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics from Central Missouri State University and a master’s degree in agricultural economics from the University of Arkansas.
Urban Regional Director, Cynthia Zluticky
Zluticky joined MU Extension in 2002 as county program director in Jackson County. Prior to joining MU Extension, she served as an extension educator at the University of Nebraska. She has more than 24 years of experience working on urban extension issues in three states.
Additional extension leadership experience includes serving as a multi-agency family services collaborative coordinator, Urban Self-Directed Work Team co-leader, project director for grants, University of Missouri Extension Association treasurer and executive board member, Nebraska Cooperative Extension Association president, and Nebraska 4-H Foundation Board of Directors.
Zluticky received a bachelor’s degree in home economics and a master’s degree in adult and continuing education from the University of Nebraska.