Service-minded candidates sought for Extension council seats

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Positions offer prime opportunity to serve needs of community

Nominations for Barry County University of Missouri Extension Council members are being accepted for the 2017 public election and may be submitted in October for review by existing county council members.

A ballot will be completed in December, and an election will occur approximately the third week of January. Currently, six council seats are available in the county.

Each county in Missouri has an Extension council made up of elected and appointed members who represent the unique backgrounds and educational needs of residents within the county. There are 18 elected members and five appointed members. Council candidates must be at least 18 years of age and reside in the district they represent.

State statutes create the county councils to work with MU Extension specialists, and assist in activities such as planning and carrying out Extension programs, providing local Extension governing of program, and representing the county's population.

Reagan Bluel, regional dairy specialist for the MU Extension, southwest region, said council seats are for a two-year term. Once a term is completed, a council member may run again for another two-year term.

"After four consecutive years, the council member must abstain for one year before running again for the next two-year term," said Bluel, who added that residents do not have to have expertise in a specific area or field to serve, as a diverse council with a variety of backgrounds is desired. "The seats are open to any background. Everyone who is service-minded has something to give to the council regardless of their background.

"Right now, we have many individuals with agricultural-related backgrounds, but one of major things I would like to see in a candidate is someone who routinely communicates with constituents in the county to ensure our county is effective in communicating its needs to the university. The goal is that the county's needs are met. Agriculture is not the only career path we seek out. We have a variety of different programs, for instance, nutrition is a very active one in Barry County."

Bluel said the time commitment is minimal, and most council members work full-time jobs.

"We typically have about nine meetings a year on a monthly basis that last about an hour," she said. "Most of our council members are working professionals."

There are also benefits, Bluel said, including serving the community, and connecting local residents with a plethora of resources and programs.

"I think one of the biggest benefits is a better understanding of the university's options," she said. "We have a Council of the Campus, that sends members to the university system and allows them to become a more informed council member of all the different offerings. Oftentimes in Barry County, we're pretty far away from the campus [referring mainly to Columbia location], and with it being a land grant institute, it is designed to serve the entire state, and there are offerings that could directly benefit Barry County constituents.

"Being a part of the council makes them more aware of these programs. Also, every person on our council are like-minded, with a community-service mindset, and so it's refreshing to be around people who have a common goal of educating the residents of Barry County."

"Serving on a county extension council can be fun," said David Burton, civic communications specialist for the Extension. "It is also a great way to represent your community, serve your county, and help create educational opportunities for your neighbors."

For more information on becoming a council member, people may call the Barry County Extension office at 417-847-3161, or email them at barryco@missouri.edu. The office also has a brochure available about the requirements of serving on an Extension council as a link on its website at: http://extension.missouri.edu/barry. The nomination form is available on the website.

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