Marion County Extension Council members recognized milestones and prepared for the road ahead as they heard Vice Chancellor of Extension and Engagement Dr. Marshall Stewart talk about what makes University of Missouri Extension and the state it serves so unique during the council's annual meeting Monday, Feb. 5.

Marion County Extension Council members recognized milestones and prepared for the road ahead as they heard Vice Chancellor of Extension and Engagement Dr. Marshall Stewart talk about what makes University of Missouri Extension and the state it serves so unique during the council’s annual meeting Monday, Feb. 5.

Stewart told the crowd how he looks forward to visiting each county and University of Missouri Extension office — witnessing the diversity, natural beauty and regional specialties brought forth from various regions of the Show Me State. When he arrived at the University of Missouri from his role at North Carolina State University in 2016, Stewart said he was told that Missourians often have conflicting opinions depending on the area or the issue at hand. But he found that residents of the Show Me State consistently agreed on three top priorities — growing the economy for today and for future generations, expanding education opportunities like workforce preparation, and health — with Stewart dubbing several parts of the state “healthcare deserts.”

“I’ve been all over the state, I’ve seen great stuff, and it is a phenomenal state with phenomenal people who truly deserve great things,” Stewart said.

Stewart has been visiting with citizens from each county, reaching out to Missourians about what MU Extension does in communities across the state each day. He said that the radioactive isotopes from the University’s nuclear reactor could “hold the key to curing cancer,” while advancements in swine research offered discoveries in cardiovascular research like treating heart disease. MU Extension teaches information, provides research and applies the knowledge for virtually every aspect of Missourian’s lives.

“We take the knowledge that’s created, and we extend it to the people so they can use it in their lives,” Stewart said.

During the meeting, local families and council members and officials were honored by Marion County Extension Council members for their leadership roles. Council chair Glenn Stewart recognized the Keith and Kim Triplett family as the recipients of the 2017 Missouri State Fair Farm Family award. The Triplett family includes Boyd, Luke and Janie, and they operate a row crop and cow farm.

Marion County MU Extension County Program Director Sherry Nelson and Vice Chair Michael Powell presented the Leaders Honor Roll to Glenn Wagner and Louis Riggs. Nelson also honored Glenn Wagner’s family for the 4-H Century Family award, noting they have contributed to area 4-H activities through membership and volunteer service for five generations and 171 years.

Outgoing council members Sean Frankenbach, Louis Riggs and Gina Hastings received framed certificates for their service. Newly elected members were sworn in by Judge John Jackson: Michael Powell, Dan Delaney, Glenn Wagner, Denise Damron, Kay Ellis, Mack Ellis and Drew Ward.

At the conclusion of his presentation, Stewart implored everyone to examine an important topic for Missourians before he opened the floor for questions. He asked members of the crowd to support state legislators’ efforts to increase broadband internet access throughout the state — pointing out that Gov. Eric Greitens, the Missouri Farm Bureau and MU Extension were among the organizations supporting a service necessary for students, farmers and Missourians in countless other industries. As he moves forward with this endeavor and helping members of MU Extension share information, Stewart recalled how a life-changing visit from his childhood inspired a career in higher education and agriculture.

“How do we figure out how to extend one more ounce of knowledge out of that institution to the people of Missouri?” he said. “One more ounce, because you never know when that drip of knowledge might change the trajectory like it did for me.”

For questions or more information about upcoming events, call the Marion County Extension office at 573-769-2177 or visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/MU-Extension-in-Marion-County-856674724406681/.

Reach reporter Trevor McDonald at trevor.mcdonald@courierpost.com