Monday, August 20, 2012

County Budget Cuts Force Move of 4-H Specialist Out of Greene County; Two Extension Assistants Laid Off

The 4-H youth development specialist for Greene County Extension is being moved out of the county and two part-time secretaries are being released in response to local budget challenges.

In addition, a nutrition assistant’s position that recently came open due to a resignation will not be refilled in Greene County according to the leader of the nutrition program.

Velynda Cameron, the 4-H youth specialist in Greene County, is being moved to another county in the region according to Jay Chism, SW Region director for MU Extension. Details are still being worked out with other county extension council so the county cannot be named yet.

“Cameron will be moved next month to a county where the County Commission provides adequate funding for the local office and has requested more 4-H programming,” said Chism.

The fourteen, volunteer led, 4-H clubs in Greene County, which have a total of 271 members, will see training and support for them greatly reduced.

“Greene County has had a growing 4-H program in recent years, especially with the addition of some urban clubs. But, this move makes that continued growth much more difficult and creates a lot of challenges for our volunteer leaders and 4-H members,” said Chism.


Part-time administrative assistants Margo Shull and Cindy Reichert have also been laid off by the Greene County Extension Council, further reducing the staff available at the Greene County Extension office which is located inside the Springfield-Greene County Botanical Center.

Eliminating the two assistants (effective Sept. 1) will have a negative impact on all of the remaining Extension programs in the county, including the Master Gardener program, by removing secretarial support for them.

“If the Greene County Extension Center is to maintain any open hours in 2013, we had to make additional staff cuts now,” said Carl Allison, Greene County Extension Council chair. “We are working now on developing some local sponsorships that could salvage 2013 for us.”


Extension’s nutrition program for southwest Missouri has kept four or five nutrition assistants busy with educational programs in the county for a number of years. A recent resignation means at least one of the positions is going to be moved to another county.

“We have lots of educational opportunities in the county and the need for nutritional education is great here,” said Dr. Pam Duitsman, nutrition specialist for MU Extension and director of the regional nutrition program. “But without the county support we can’t keep providing the same level of programming for our clients, partnering organizations and county residents.”


The Greene County Extension Center is maintained as a partnership between the Greene County Commission and the University of Missouri. But in recent years, funding from the Greene County Commission has fallen far below the amount needed to maintain a local office even though the county office provided educational programs for over 25,000 people during 2011.

“The budget reduction by the Greene County Commission to the state minimum of $10,000 for Extension in 2012 has forced the council to make additional, dramatic, changes. We are told the budget for 2013 will not be any better,” said Allison. “This is the type of thing we said would happen when the budget was announced back in January.”

University of Missouri fully funds the salaries, benefits, training, and computer support, for the five specialists headquartered in Greene County. County funds are used to pay administrative assistants and office expenses like the telephone, copies, office supplies, some postage and travel for specialists conducting programs.

“Our best projection is that with this current reduction, the office will have enough money to operate for another 8 to 10 months unless we find some sponsors and regain more than just minimum funding from the county commission,” said Allison. “For three years we have pulled from our reserves to fulfill our mission after the Commission cut our budget. But, we also know we can’t cut ourselves to prosperity, we need additional county funding to survive.”

In 2009, the County allocated $95,000 to the publically elected Greene County Extension Council. The local office also generated about $25,000 as part of an annual office budget of $115,000, which was still a cut from previous years.

In 2010, the County Commission voted to allocate $27,000 to the local office as a savings measure and the local office began to draw heavily from reserve funds, even after making cuts. The Commission repeated the allocation of $27,000 (a 72% percent cut from previous years) with the 2011 budget also. The 2012 budget was a 90% cut to the amount requested by council.

By state law, every first class county funds an Extension office with a minimum of $10,000. That amount was set in 1961 and would need to be $72,000 now to have the same buying power.


“The local Greene County Extension Council has instituted many cuts and revenue generating ideas over the past three or four years in an effort to balance the budget,” said Allison. “Those cuts have kept this county office open during that time period but the reserves have run out.”

Educational programs at the Greene County Extension Center draw people from other counties in to Greene County where they spend money and then take what they have learned back home to improve their own communities. The regional specialists in the Greene County office conduct programs that impact the entire region but they also do good work for Greene County.

“From a regional perspective, the Greene County office is one of our flagship so a cut of this magnitude is troubling for our organization, our staff and the people we serve,” said Chism. “The biggest concern is that these changes reduce services to the residents of Greene County.”

More information about the impact of the budget cut is available on the Greene County Extension website,


Post a Comment

Let us know how you have been helped by this article or what you have learned from this story.

<< Home