A move by the Camden County Commission to cut $38,000 from the University of Missouri Extension budget has ruffled feathers and raised concerns about the fate of the services. While the short term operations will not be affected, reserve funds will run out eventually and MU Extension may have to close the local office. That decision would be made at the state level.
Extension offices have been working with counties since the 1960s. Since then, Camden County and MU Extension have maintained an adequate working relationship.
As a surprise to the local staff, Camden County Presiding Commissioner Kris Franken sent a letter on Nov. 29 stating that "the appropriations for the University of Missouri Extension from Camden County will be reduced to the statutorily required minimum of $10,000 this year." The county budgeted $48,000 for the Extension program in 2012. The funds could be sent in the form of $10,000 cash or $1,000 cash and $9,000 in kind for the rent on the building that the county is currently offering to Extension at no cost. If Extension chooses $10,000 in cash, the rent will cost them $750 per month beginning Jan. 1, 2013. The letter also stated that the cuts are "necessary in these tough budgetary times."
Extension employees and council were shocked by the news of the budget cuts.
"I could not believe that anybody would make that drastic of a cut," Camden County Extension Council Chair Guy Winters said. For Winters, his main concern is the children and senior citizens that currently benefit from the program.
The county is required by law to appropriate $10,000 to the local Extension office, but with the rent that Camden County is now requiring, the local office really only receives $1,000 per year.
According to Jackie Rasmussen, Business Development Specialist, MU Extension impacts thousands of residents in Camden County each year. The Extension Center provides residents with access to information and services regarding agriculture and natural resources, business and leadership development, nutrition and health education, youth development and human development. Programs include Missouri Master Naturalist and Missouri Master Gardner, Leadership Camden County, 4-H and many other services.
The talk of this budget cut has sparked some questions in the community. "There has been some concern that the resources of Extension could be lost," Rasmussen said. No one really knows what the actual outcome will be at this point. Rasmussen said that residents have made it known that they would be "extremely disappointed if the program is eliminated."
Extension's response to the county's Nov. 29 letter was due on Dec. 10. Rasmussen responded to the commission saying, "The Camden County University of Missouri Extension Council asks that you reconsider this funding decision, especially in the light of the value that MU Extension programming and assistance provides to county residents. University of Missouri Extension touches the lives of thousands of residents--across all age groups, geographies, socio-economics, needs, etc. Where else could the $40,000 investment the County makes in Extension derive such an impact and positive return on investment?" Extension did answer the commission on which way they prefer to receive their funds. The Extension council chose the $10,000 cash option.
Page 2 of 3 - The Lake Sun attempted to contact Presiding Commissioner Kris Franken to ask why the cuts were made and how this would affect the county's budget, Franken did confirm that the budget cuts were being made, but chose not to expand on the topic.
MU Extension has sent out requests to programs affected by this budget cut and have asked members to contact the commission and ask them to reconsider their decision. Any resident that would like to express their concern with this budget cut is asked by MU Extension to contact the Camden County Commission.
About MU Extension:
Every year thousands of residents in Camden County turn to University of Missouri Extension to gain practical knowledge, solve problems, adapt to change and make informed decisions.
The Camden County University of Missouri Extension Center provides residents of the county
with access to information, expertise, programming and services in:
- Agriculture & Natural Resources
- Business & Leadership Development
-Nutrition & Health Education
- Youth Development
- Human Development
Key Programs 2011-2012
AGRICULTURE & NATURAL RESOURCES— Supporting Natural
Resource Education & Volunteerism:
The Missouri Master Naturalist and Missouri Master
Gardener programs provide in-depth learning opportunities
for residents interested in environmental protection and
stewardship. 350 people have graduated from these classes.
Graduates annually give back 5,000+ hours of volunteer service through beautification,
education, and conservation projects in Camden County.
BUSIINESS DEVELOPMENT— Supporting Economic Development & the Creation of Jobs:
Business counselors assisted 243 people and their companies with business start-up and
management coaching and training. Those receiving assistance reported the following economic
impact: creation of 6 new businesses; 34 new jobs; sales increase of $236,302; and new
investment of $1.1 million.
LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT —Over the past 18 years 420
community members have graduated from the Leadership
Camden County program. Graduates play an integral role in
leading dozens of community organizations and local
4-H YOUTH DEVELOPMENT—Developing Skills for Life:
4-H project work and related educational experiences help youth
explore interests in citizenship, communications, leadership and
community engagement. 1250 youth in Camden County are
touched by 4-H program activities annually; 251 are members of 4-
H Clubs (5 community and 7 school-based); 125 adults volunteered
2,000 hours of their time to support these activities.
Key Program Activities include: 4-H Robotics Program at Camdenton R-III Schools, Summer
Camp, Youth EXCEL Leadership Class, Science Saturdays.
NUTRITION & HEALTH EDUCATION— Improving Healthy Lifestyles:
244 individuals enhanced their nutrition knowledge, physical fitness or ability to make healthy
Page 3 of 3 - and smart food choices. Popular program options include:
- Stay Strong, Stay Healthy - which teaches proper
strength training techniques to middle/older aged adults.
- Food Preservation—teaching participants how to safely
preserve vegetables, jams, jellies) & salsa.
- Eat Well, Be Well with Diabetes—teaching menu
planning and diet management.
FAMILY NUTRITION EDUCATION—Nutrition & Life Skills for Youth & Families:
University of Missouri Extension Family Nutrition Education
Programs (FNEP) reached 4,000 low-income participants with
nutrition education in Camden County during 2012. Youth K-12 in all
of the Camden County schools are touched by this program. Adult
& youth audiences at Lake Area Industries, the Crisis Pregnancy
Center, Camdenton Farmers Market, MOCA, Lake Regional Hospital,
and Camdenton Library also received instruction.
- Jackie Rasmussen—Business Development Specialist/County Program Director
- Michele Kroll—4-H Youth Development Specialist
- Melissa Bess—Nutrition & Health Education Specialist
- Larry Roberts & Amy Bartels—Food & Nutrition Education Program Associates
- Cheryl Baremore & Linda Truesdell—Office Support
MU Extension adds value & touches the lives of thousands of Camden County residents annually!
For more information, visit http://extension.missouri.edu/camden.
*All information provided directly from Camden County MU Extension