As an organization that is known for its efforts to recognize and reward the work of others, the University of Missouri Extension of Pettis County took the time Tuesday night at the annual meeting to recognize the continual efforts on behalf of its members to help county residents.
Dr. Mary Simon Leuci, assistant dean and extension program director for community development at the University of Missouri, spoke to those in attendance about the importance of the connection between the University System and the community.
“The reality is that we have been through some tough times at the University in recent months,” Leuci said. “But we have been through tough times before and we will come out of this.
“Our work and focus hasn’t changed and we will continue to do things for the people of the state,” Leuci said. “The connection between the college and the community is the key to that.”
Leuci maintained that the University of Missouri is still recognized as one of the premier universities in the country and an amazing place to be.
“Many of the top and best scientists in the country and the world work at MU and we continue to train the next generation,” Leuci said. “Our research is important but it must be relevant.
“We need to ask ourselves how we interface,” Leuci added. “That connection between the college and the community is the key.”
The connection between 4-H and the University is one of the connections Leuci said she feels is very important.
“The things I was exposed to going to a small high school and being a member of 4-H led me to so many other things,” Leuci said. “Those connections with the communities and business are so important.
“We have a bright future but that doesn’t mean we don’t have to continue to work hard to keep this a place we love to call home and to be a proud part of,” Leuci added.
In her remarks on behalf of the Pettis County 4-H Foundation, Georgia Reid said that for many of those in attendance they would not be there if it wasn’t for their membership and work in 4-H.
“It truly is because of you and your efforts that we are able to keep 4-H strong in Pettis County,” Reid said.
Following Reid’s remarks, an example of the strength of the 4-H program and agriculture in the county was introduced.
The Berry Family was selected as the Pettis County 2015 State Fair Farm Family.
“This is a family whose parents, Justin and Elizabeth, want their children to love agriculture,” Nan Hutchinson, 4-H Youth Program Associate, said. “They are such a positive example of our 4-H families and they are raising their children to be the future leaders of agriculture.”
Nan Hutchinson has firsthand knowledge of growing up in an agricultural family as her father Don Hutchinson was recognized twice Tuesday evening for his work with the Extension program.
Don Hutchinson was one of four retiring Extension council members.
Shortly after receiving that recognition, Don Hutchinson was awarded the Mergen Spirit Award, which is given to an individual who maintains the goals and works to keeps an awareness of the Extension in the community.
“I think that Don uniquely understands the role of the Extension in the community,” David Dick, treasurer of the Pettis County Extension Service, said after making the presentation with Dana Binder to Hutchinson. “We’ve been friends since we were young boys and we grew up together in the Flat Creek 4-H.
“He and his family have always been active in the community and as an adult and father he has worked to help his children and the area kids be successful as well,” he added. “I think our exposure when we were younger to 4-H helped us all to grow up to be better people and Don is an excellent example of that.”
Don Hutchinson said even though he had stepped down from his role on the council he still planned to be involved with the program.
“I really can’t find the words to say what this means,” Don Hutchinson said. “I still want to be involved and plan to help as much as I can because it is such a good experience.”
Nan Hutchinson agreed.
“I have a great job working for the Extension but my dad comes in to volunteer and help at our events,” Nan Hutchinson said. “I get paid for what I do but dad does it because he wants to help others.
“He is such a great example and role model to me,” she said proudly. “He is a constant reminder that we should all go above and beyond what is expected.”
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484