The University of Missouri Extension (MU Extension) in Christian County is a partnership between Christian County and the University of Missouri. Across the state, MU Extension has a presence in all 114 counties, supported by funding from the federal government, state of Missouri, and each County Commission. While often recognized for advancing progress in agriculture, Extension has evolved to embrace a more expansive mission, seeking to advance not only improvements in specific sectors of the economy but also provide knowledge to empower people to understand change, solve problems and make informed decisions. In 2017, a third-party assessment revealed that MU Extension provides counties over a 10-fold return on investment.
Community Development became part of the work of the Cooperative Extension Service in 1955, with the passage by the U.S. Congress of a modified Smith-Lever Act. The addition of Community Development was partially due to a national report that noted the need to do more than attend to the needs of agriculture, but also to “expand new industries and economic interests, promote social cohesion, improve efficiency of local government, and grow a cooperative spirit that engaged people as participants and contributors.” A further modification of the Smith-Lever Act in 1961, endorsed the use of federal funds to support community resource and economic development initiatives.
The current Community and Economic Development (CED) program of the University of Missouri Extension continues with this mission. University of Missouri faculty, who are housed in county offices around the state, work to build economically viable communities; renew civic engagement; enhance community decision-making; and pursue proven and innovative science-based strategies to promote growth, sustainability, resiliency, and community well-being.
Using asset-based community development strategies, we are continually exploring avenues to help expand on unique community assets and to build on competitive regional strengths. Efforts include work to strengthen entrepreneurship and promote business growth, improve business retention and expansion programs, invest in the development of local food systems, promote agritourism, and develop community leadership.
The MU Extension vision for 2020 is to continue to achieve more through “engagement” with our Missouri communities. Whether through CED programs; 4-H Youth development; building profitable agricultural practices; nutrition and health education; human development and family programs; or connection to a variety of unique programs through the University of Missouri, we look forward to working with you to make lasting positive community impacts.
Pam Duitsman, PhD
County Engagement Specialist
Community and Economic Development