Division News

The University of Missouri will host the American Association for Agricultural Education North Central Region Research Conference in fall 2022.

On Oct. 9, Gloria Ndindir Mangoni successfully defended her thesis titled “Exploring factors associated with free and reduced-price lunch participation in Missouri’s school districts.” Hua Qin is her adviser.

Rebecca Mott has been appointed to a three-year term on the North Central Region’s Program Improvement Committee for the American Association for Agricultural Education.

The CAFNR Livestock Judging Team recently finished fifth place overall at the Texas State Fair competition. DASS undergraduates Aaron Mott (senior, agriculture) and Erica Gilmore (senior, agribusiness management) competed on the team, along with three other CAFNR students.

Several recently funded grant projects have divisional personnel as lead investigators:

  • Scott Brown. “Challenging the system: Are U.S. beginning farmer programs debilitating or advancing the progress of agriculture?” 5/15/2020-5/14/2023, $36,605, Missouri State University.
  • Kerry Clark. “Cochran Fellowship Program FY20 Argentina-Paraguay gastronomy ingredients.” 10/1/2020-12/31/2021, $69,875, Foreign Ag Service.
  • Kerry Clark. “Regional food safety efforts in Africa.” 9/7/2020-7/31/2023, $499,999, Foreign Ag Service.
  • Kerry Clark. “Strengthening East African community phytosanitary priorities.” 9/21/2020-9/30/2022, $149,964, Foreign Ag Service.
  • Kerry Clark. “Strengthening West African community phytosanitary priorities.” 9/22/2020-8/31/2022, $150,000, Foreign Ag Service.
  • Kerry Clark. “Evaluation of promising quinoa lines in the Midwest for enhanced food security and sustainability.” 5/1/2020-3/31/2023, $103,262, Lincoln University.
  • Mary K. Hendrickson. “Understanding and overcoming barriers to adoption of organic agriculture in the mid-South.” 9/1/2020-8/31/2023, $422,307, National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
  • Joe L. Horner. “McKaskle Family Farms LLC popped sorghum feasibility.” 7/1/2020-6/30/2021, $58,060, McKaskle Family Farms LLC.
  • Nicholas Kalaitzandonakes. “The economics and policies of genome editing technologies in agriculture and food.” 10/1/2019-9/30/2020, $150,000, Osborn Barr Agency.
  • Pei Liu. “Development and implementation of a customized and culturally-sensitive FSMA supplemental training program for Hmong farmers: A community outreach project.” 9/1/2020-8/31/2022, $274,670, National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
  • Raymond Massey. “Economic opportunities from improved animal waste management.” 8/13/2020-12/31/202, $161,921, Department of Agriculture.
  • Seth Meyer. “COVID-19 impacts on U.S. ag commodity market and trade.” 6/1/2020-6/30/2021, $256,491, Texas A&M University.
  • Seth Meyer. “Weather extremes, infrastructure, and its impacts on U.S. corn and soybean basis levels.” 4/6/2020-7/1/2022, $150,000, Department of Agriculture.
  • Seth Meyer. “Improvements to the USDA Baseline models, projections and process.” 9/18/2020-8/31/2025, $425,000, Department of Agriculture.
  • William H . Meyers. “Cochran Fellowship Program 20/21 Bosnia ag policy & international trade.” 10/1/2020-12/31/2021, $57,063, Foreign Ag Service.
  • Ryan Milhollin. “Local salads from Epperson Farms hydroponic greenhouses and prison worker release program.” 8/25/2020-6/30/2021, $24,825, Epperson Farms.
  • Jamille Palacios Rivera. “Revisiting the drivers of on-farm food loss at the macro level.” 8/4/2020-8/31/2022, $21,000, Department of Agriculture.
  • Jon Simonsen. “Enhancing farmer resiliency and financial benchmarking diversity through technology inspired delivery and collaborative mentorship.” 9/1/2020-8/31/2021, $499,992, National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
  • Haitao Li (UMSL), Wyatt Thompson and Hoa Hoang have been awarded an International Agricultural Trade Research Consortium grant to study COVID-19 effects on the grape supply chain.

This month, the UM Board of Curators named Sandy Rikoon Curators’ Distinguished Professor Emeritus, and the Office of the Chancellor granted him the title of dean emeritus of the College of Human Environmental Sciences. Dr. Rikoon retired in July 2020.

Calling all #TigersInTheField! The Division is looking for student fall internships to highlight via divisional social media. Faculty should contact Alice Roach to suggest students to feature.

Director’s Updates & Engagements

This year will be defined by working differently with less.  I’ll share three ways I’m thinking about the division working differently:

  • Office space. I’m working on a merger of the fiscal office and division director’s office where three offices will serve the full needs of the division with a rotating staffing plan. This shared resource will reduce costs by over $25,000 annually while allowing employees the flexibility to work remotely. There are other areas in the division where a shared office resource model may work. The division director’s office will lead and learn.
  • Phones & ports. After the fall semester we will aggressively look at phone needs and port usage. Across the division, faculty, staff, and administrative funds are used to cover these expenses of near $75,000 per year. Over the last nine months we have found that remote work has some advantages, and changes where — and how — we communicate.

Travel. I share the same desire as others in looking forward to attending conferences, professional meetings and exploring opportunities again. Given the technological advances which allow for remote communication and conferencing, there will be opportunities for the Division to reduce its funded portion of travel considerably. Relatedly, the Division must continue to consider which of its training programs can be delivered remotely.

Research, Extension & Engagement Activities

Scott Brown‘s latest article for Hoard’s Dairyman is titled “No clear 20/20 vision for 2021 milk prices.”

Kimberly Cash, Amy Bax and John Tummons. 2020. “Does 4-H parent volunteering impact retention of high school 4-H members?” Poster presentation, American Association for Agricultural Education North Central Region Research Conference.

Adam Cletzer and Eric Kaufman. 2020. “Eco-leadership among county 4-H organizations: Relationship to programmatic success and best practices for eco-leaders.” Journal of Leadership Education.

Adam Cletzer, Rebecca Mott, Jon Simonsen, John Tummons, Jaelyn Peckman and Kate Preston. 2020. “Agricultural leadership: A national portrait of undergraduate courses.” Selected paper, American Association for Agricultural Education North Central Region Research Conference.

On Oct. 20, Exceed – Regional Economic & Entrepreneurial Development launched “Exceed Updates.” This biweekly e-newsletter will include research-based insights about the Missouri economy, related upcoming events and resources to facilitate economic development. Subscribe at tinyurl.com/ExceedUpdates.

Marty Foreman has created a video summarizing the October USDA U.S. Crop Production and World Ag Supply and Demand Estimates.

Zsolt Nagykaldi, Dewey Scheid, Yan D. Zhao, Bhawani Mishra and Tracy Greever-Rice. 2020. “A Sustainable Model for Preventive Services in Rural Counties: The Healthier Together study.” The Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine.

Jaelyn Peckman, Courtney Meyers and Adam Cletzer. 2020. “Exploring the influences of the ‘gluten-free’ label claim on parents’ food purchasing decisions.” Selected paper, American Association for Agricultural Education North Central Region Research Conference.

Francis Kwansa and Eliza Ching-Yick Tse. 2020. Hospitality Finance and Strategy. Kendall Hunt Publishing.

Pat Westhoff discusses record direct federal payments to farmers in the New York Times.

Elizabeth Wyss and Adam Cletzer. 2020. “Identifying skills needed for agricultural communications students’ career-readiness.” Selected paper, American Association for Agricultural Education North Central Region Research Conference.

Six-Month Snapshot

The “Six-Month Snapshot” highlights faculty’s planned research, teaching, extension, engagement and service activities for the next six months. By sharing this information, the intent is to enable divisional faculty to learn about one another and identify opportunities to collaborate.

All faculty will receive an invitation to contribute in an upcoming issue. In this issue, we feature Mallory Rahe, Jon Simonsen and Alan Spell.

Mallory Rahe
Assistant Extension Professor
Community and Regional Economics
Agribusiness and Policy

What are the top three focuses of your research program?
In my research, I tend to focus on better understanding how to unlock value-added opportunities in agriculture and expand access to those opportunities to more people. I am very passionate about rural places and driven by a desire to ensure that people have choices about where they live, what they do and how they do it. I like to use rural wealth creation and value chain development as an approach to regional economic development. I also have some current work focused on understanding regional food systems to improve producer profitability and increase access to markets.

How do you plan to share your research findings?
My research has an applied focus. I publish in practitioner-focused journals and strive to make my work accessible through short extension guides and presentations to targeted audiences. The “Engaging 4 MO” webinar series is a great platform for extending work as well. Since coming to Mizzou, I have also focused on developing better social media strategies and website materials to help drive content to the people who can use it. Hannah McClure and I are trying things with both the Exceed team and the Ag Business Policy Program to answer these questions: How do we stay relevant and reach people in a world full of information? Who are we trying to serve, and why? It’s been an interesting challenge — and it has led to stronger internal collaboration on campus and with extension county engagement specialists and field specialists.

On what challenges or opportunities are your extension activities focused?
Currently, I am providing leadership to the Missouri SBDC for Agriculture, Food and Forestry with David Steffes. This is a new partnership between the Missouri SBDC and MU Extension’s Agriculture and Environment Program. We are reaching out and connecting with current and aspiring producers and value-added businesses across the state to provide business assistance. As we engage more business owners, we will be able to adapt and strengthen existing extension programs to better support producers to successfully take their product to market in a sustainable way that grows our state economy.

What audiences do you plan to reach with extension activities?
I have an ongoing project examining rural farmers markets as a business incubator. We created an in-depth baseline last year with the expectation of monitoring specific market interventions this year. Our vendor support system has collided with COVID, and as the market season draws to a close, we will start to examine vendor resiliency. I am also providing evaluation support to a project with the Kansas City Food Hub using a value chain approach to strengthen the hub’s role as a regional aggregator and distributor for Missouri producers.

Jon Simonsen
Associate Professor
Agricultural Education & Leadership


What goals do you have set for your research program?
The research area that I work with is in the scholarship of teaching and learning of leadership. I am currently working on a project with my colleagues that will provide insight into the leadership capacity and development of knowledge, skills and dispositions within CAFNR students. The project is directly tied to CAFNR’s “Drive to Distinction” strategic plan.

How do you plan to share about your research findings?
The findings will be shared not only within CAFNR but also through journal articles and presentations. Currently, we have already shared some of the findings at a regional professional organization research conference. Additional findings will be added — with much of the dissemination taking place over the next year.

Who do you plan to engage as guest speakers in the course(s) you teach?
In the Litton Leadership Scholars program, we will have multiple guests join us next semester. One that I always look forward to, and the students find tremendously valuable, is Dr. Ellis Ingram who discusses mentorship. Dr. Ingram has held many titles over the years. Those include senior associate dean for diversity and inclusion at the University of Missouri School of Medicine and “Poppi” at Granny’s House, an outreach program for children living in public housing in Columbia.

What projects do you have planned for students in the course(s) you teach?
In our Methods I class this spring — the course our teacher certification students take during their junior year — the final project will be to develop curriculum around Missouri agricultural commodities. This will demonstrate their ability to assemble lesson plans, design engaging activities and evaluate learning. It will also provide them with practical resources that can be used in their future careers.

Alan Spell
Assistant Extension Professor
Regional Economic Development

What are the top three focuses of your research program?
In the coming months, I’ll continue analyzing timely data on how the Missouri economy is faring during COVID. I’ll start research on the fastest growing Missouri firms in the past five years and dig into research on the economic benefits of expanded broadband access. I hope the research on fast-growth companies gives us insights into past successes — with the recognition that business models may change moving forward. Someone starting a restaurant, for example, will have new considerations for design and operation given what’s happened in the past six months.

How do you plan to share your research findings?
There are several ways our DASS team is trying to share research findings. We have a biweekly economic indicators brief, which is published on the Exceed website and sent to MU Extension staff for updates on relevant economic data they can use. Second, we take advantage of social media platforms, such as LinkedIn, to post research findings. And this month we are starting a newsletter to keep people updated on the latest research and resources they may find helpful in understanding the economy.

On what challenges or opportunities are your extension activities focused?
The impact of COVID on our economy has been my main focus, along with trying to help unpack that information for use by extension staff and others. There are more real-time data sources available now than in prior economic downturns, but navigating what is useful and trustworthy is a big challenge. Looking into the future, it will be helpful to understand which types of businesses are poised to grow and how expanding technology such as broadband can better prepare us for the next economic shock.

What audiences do you plan to reach with extension activities?
My hope is that the COVID-related economic and business research will help MU Extension staff engage with their communities and local leaders about current issues and opportunities. This research can also benefit policymakers, state agencies, business counselors and other researchers, so I hope our newsletter helps us reach those audiences as well.

Grad Student Spotlight

The “Grad Student Spotlight” introduces new MS and PhD students in the Division’s academic programs. In this issue, we feature Mikayla Fox, Jorge Martinez and Alexander Muñoz.

Mikayla Fox
MS student, Agriculture Leadership, Communication and Education
Hometown: Stockton, Missouri

What’s the most impactful course you’ve taken during your graduate program studies?
The most impactful course I have taken thus far was “History of the Land Grant University” with Dr. Marshall Stewart. Throughout this course, I gained a better understanding of my role as an extension specialist as we dove into the history of the land-grant university. I now have a basis of knowledge to use throughout my career with the University of Missouri Extension.

Jorge Martinez
PhD, Agricultural & Applied Economics
Home country: Mexico

What’s the name of the most impactful course you’ve taken during your graduate program studies?
While earning my master’s degree at Texas A&M, I took a course on econometrics with Dr. Reid Stevens. I learned Stata, which is a software for statistics and data science.

Alexander Muñoz
MS student, Agriculture Leadership, Communication and Education
Hometown: Waynesville, Missouri

What’s the most impactful course you’ve taken during your graduate program studies?
The most impactful course I have taken thus far would be Theory in Agriculture Communication, taught by Dr. Levy Randolph from Kansas State University. It’s really exciting to have the opportunity to take courses from sister agriculture universities to get new perspectives in a discussion format.

Industry News

Earlier this week, Whole Foods announced its food trend predictions for 2021. The top 10 list includes focusing on well-being, eating an “epic breakfast” each day and using reimagined pantry staples. FoodNavigator-USA summarizes the trend predictions here.

U.S. consumers felt less satisfied with supermarkets from April to September of this year than they did in 2019, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index. Reasons contributing to the supermarket satisfaction decline include less reliable in-store inventory and fewer sales and promotions.

Submit Your News

If you have information to share in the DASS Wrap-Up, then please send your news items to Amy Moum or Joe Parcell.