A fitting honor: Curators name building after Eldon Cole

Late MU Extension employee’s name to grace new livestock facility

A building under construction at the Southwest Research, Extension and Education Center (SW-REEC) in Mount Vernon has been officially named in honor of Eldon Cole by the University of Missouri System Board of Curators.

Cole was a longtime employee of University of Missouri Extension, serving 58 years before his death in April 2022. After four years in Saline County, he started at the Lawrence County extension center in 1968; working most recently as a livestock field specialist. He worked closely with faculty and staff at the SW-REEC, often offering workshops for producers.

Jay Chism, SW-REEC director, said it was fitting to name the new building, a state-of-the-art livestock handling facility, in Cole’s honor. It will be known as the Eldon Cole MU Livestock Facility when completed.

“Eldon worked so tirelessly with our livestock producers in SW Missouri for so many years,” Chism said. “He was the go-to for so many producers. This is just the perfect way to honor his amazing legacy.”

In fact, it was Cole who first expressed the need for the building to Mizzou leadership, Chism said. Cole’s role at MU Extension saw him learning the science of livestock production and translating it into messages producers were ready to understand. His purview also included forages, insects, weather and marketing.

The groundbreaking for the new building was held in November 2022; construction is scheduled to be completed by June 2023. The facility is a joint project between MU Extension and the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources.

“The goals of the new building are to offer more public education and research opportunities,” Chism said. The facility, which will sit on the portion of the REEC north of I-44, will offer an indoor space for breeding activities like pregnancy checking, healthcare procedures such as vaccinations, and research data collection like blood draws; it will also feature an observation deck.

In addition to conducting research, SW-REEC facilities are used to provide community education that helps area farmers improve practices and make their own farms more productive and profitable. Chism said he looks forward to offering classes through MU Extension to area farmers that the REEC currently cannot support, including topics like artificial insemination in which live demonstrations are key to learning.