Staff at University Extension office quietly works to improve Cape County

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The office employs specialists involved with agriculture, youth and business development.

Some people may not know its purpose or that it even exists, but a long history of research-based work takes place inside a building on the outskirts of Jackson.

The University of Missouri Extension office is affecting the economy, empowering individuals and building strong families and communities in Cape Girardeau County -- that's according to representatives with the extension office at 684 W. Jackson Trail.

On Monday, Tom Henderson, assistant to the provost for economic development at the University of Missouri, discussed the impact of the extension office in Cape Girardeau County.

"Most individuals may only be familiar with one or two of our program areas, so the big picture does not come easily to the average resident," he said.

By using research-based knowledge, the goal of the University of Missouri Extension office is to help people understand change, solve problems and make informed decisions, Henderson said. "All these programs are designed to help people in the community."

Specialists involved with livestock, human development, agronomy, 4-H and youth and business development work out of the extension office.

Richard Proffer, regional development specialist, has been working at the extension since February and counsels small and large businesses in Cape Girardeau County. He has worked with 33 clients and helped create three new jobs and one new business.

"Anytime you can create jobs, it's a good thing. There are many others out there that I'm working with," Proffer said. "Overall it's been a positive economic impact in the community."

Regional livestock specialist Roger Eakins oversees the replacement cattle program. He said it's designed to increase marketing opportunities for and add value to Missouri-raised cattle.

Since 1998, Cape Girardeau County has ranked first in the state with 37 cattle producers. More than 3,000 head of cattle have been sold for more than $3.5 million during the last year in Cape Girardeau County.

Human development specialist Mary Gosche's job is to "help people help themselves through education." The extension office provides programs such as abstinence education, grandparents raising grandchildren support groups and family and community advising.

Henderson said the University of Missouri Extension office has had a presence in the county since the early 1900s. "It may even be one of the first counties to adopt an extension office," he said.

For questions or information regarding the programs offered at the University of Missouri Extension office, call (573) 243-3581.

335-6611, extension 246

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