University of Missouri Marion County Extension Council highlights area accomplishments, news from MU

Members of the University of Missouri Marion County Extension Advisory Council shined a spotlight on area families and recent events at Mizzou during their annual meeting Monday, Feb. 4 at Zion Lutheran School in Palmyra.

Chris Kempke, community engagement specialist and economic development specialist with the University of Missouri Extension, commended the Aaron and Sheila Drebes family as winners of the 2018 Missouri State Fair Farm Family. The family operates a diversified row crop and livestock operation, and includes children Christian and Emmalee.

Kempke also honored recipients of 2018 Century Farm distinctions — William and Sarah Phillips, established 1827; Hoehne Family Farm, established 1918; and Carwell Family Farm, established 1918.

Council Vice Chair Michael Powell recognized Donald Porter as a member of 2018 Leaders Honor Roll.

Dr. Jim Spain, vice provost for undergraduate studies at the University of Missouri, shared information from the university like changes to make education more affordable for students receiving Pell grants. Spain said university officials are focused on changes aimed at reducing costs for services and items like housing, educational material and dining. The new Pell Grant program includes a scholarship to cover the remaining costs for a student receiving the grant.

“This is us making an investment to make sure the youth of Missouri can afford their Mizzou,” he said.

Freshman enrollment has been increasing, with 4,700 freshmen enrolled this school year compared with 4,200 the previous year. Spain said the goal is for next year's freshman class to include 5,200 students.

Spain shared several examples of student leadership, including the Mizzouthon dance fundraiser to help Columbia area women's and children's hospitals, and the Mizzou Homecoming Blood Drive, which collects more blood for the American Red Cross than any other drive in the nation. He said Mizzou Alternative Breaks are student-funded and organized, with groups of students performing service projects across the nation and the world during spring break. And Spain showed members of the audience designs created by Mizzou students for a clothing line specially designed for people who use a wheelchair.

“These are your students at your University of Missouri who are doing this,” he said.

Spain said the words “inspiring” and “encouraging” came to mind as he shared the accomplishments of MU faculty members and students, and he said university officials would continue to find ways to help students remain enrolled, graduate and find successful jobs and face reduced debt.

“I think that's what the families across the state of Missouri are asking us to do, and I think we're doing it in a very exceptional way in providing our kids with the future that they wouldn't otherwise be prepared to experience or enjoy,” he said.

Kempke presented certificates to outgoing council members Kay Ellis, Stephen McGregor and Marcia Bross. Newly-elected members Janet Lehenbauer, Jen Meyer, Richard Willard, Kathy Keim and Stephanie Cooper were sworn in by Marion County Associate Circuit Judge John Jackson. They will join Vice Chair Michael Powell, Dan Delaney, Chair Glenn Wagner, Denise Dameron, Richelle Behring, Mack Ellis, Drew Ward, Treasurer Kenny Lovelace, Steve Begley, Secretary Geri Graves and Kevin Knapp for the upcoming year.

trevor.mcdonald@courierpost.com